It’s all about perspective.
In the world of social media sharing and reality TV, it’s impossible not to pay attention to what everyone around you seems to be doing. After all, they are constantly putting it in our faces. And while there is of course value in these media forms (for entertainment or a way to kill time, if nothing else!), we need to be careful about how we view our own lives as a result.
We just got out of a rough two or so weeks of sickness in our house. Both kids alternated being sick.
Then I got it, and then my husband. I guess this is what winter is like with two toddlers and all the germs that come with it. We had days off of school, missed work and lots of things that felt much harder to do, or didn’t get done at all. It started to become very easy to feel sorry for our situation. I was upset about all of the things that weren’t taken care of around the house. I was sad about the events I had to miss because my kids needed me more.
As a therapist, I know the risks involved in going down this rabbit hole. How quickly we can take our view of a not so great situation and turn it into a catastrophe of epic proportions (OK, maybe a little dramatic there, but you get the point).
So I started to ask myself, as I would ask of my clients, “How is this thought process helping me? What good is coming out of me feeling sorry for myself?”
Was it helping my kids get healthier quicker (I wish!)? Were these thoughts allowing me to come up with solutions for the problems I felt I was facing?
It’s not hard to surmise that the answers to these questions were no. If anything, the way I was looking at things was just making the situation even harder for me to deal with.
So I had a choice. I could continue to feel sorry for myself, or I could put a little effort into changing my perspective.
One of the techniques I use often with my clients is called cognitive restructuring. Simply put, I help them to change the way the view things. Changing the perspective with which they judge what is going on in their lives. And while this is something I help others do every day, in this situation, I realized that I should probably take some of my own advice.
I started to think about how else I might be able to view this situation. I could feel pretty crappy having to deal with sick kids, or I could remind myself that my kids will get better. I could focus on the sweet snuggle time we got together, rather than all of the things I did not get to do. When I started to compare myself with others who might handle this situation “better” than me, I can remind myself that I am doing the best that I can, and that is something to feel pretty good about.
We all have days that don’t go well, or moments we wish never happened. But this is what makes our life what it is. So while it might be easy to think of what you don’t have, or where you wish your life was at that moment, think about what that perspective takes away.
It takes away your ability to feel good about what you do have. To enjoy the moments that are in front of you, and the positive aspects of your life.
We all have the ability to view things in a way that will allow us to feel better. So why not choose to do it?
Jmore parenting columnist Talya Knable is a psychotherapist who lives in Lutherville with her husband, Stephen, and their two children, Jack and Leigh. Her website is tkpsych.com/. She is also the assistant clinical director of Shalom Tikvah (shalomtikvah.org/), a local non-profit organization that supports Jewish families facing mental illness and other challenging life circumstances.