A shift in perspective seemingly occurs suddenly. A clear demarcation arises. In a moment you see things and yourself differently. I know this occurs because it happened to me, and yet, how sudden is it?
Perspective is the way one looks at things or a particular way of thinking about something, especially one that is influenced by your beliefs or experiences. It’s the lens you see the world through and determines how you view yourself, others, and everything else around you.
For the majority of my life, my perspective was clouded by the lenses of fear, anxiety, depression and shame, at least until one day in August, 2007. On that day, I went to a workshop about labyrinths – their history and use as a mindfulness meditation tool and spiritual healing. It was arranged by the spiritual advisor at an inpatient facility where I was receiving treatment for depression and alcoholism. As a result of those three hours, engaged in an activity that I hadn’t planned, my perspective changed from one of despair to one of hope.
It seemed dramatic and sudden – as if I was propelled into a different dimension – but in retrospect, I know that this moment had been coming for a long time. The good news was that my willingness coincided with my change in perspective. I could have chosen to stay in my own prison of depression, fear and anxiety but instead I chose to be open minded – the result of finally being sick and tired of being sick and tired. From that moment on, I was able to see my worth as a valuable human being. Just this small ray of hope and a change in my perspective allowed me to find the courage to face my fears and grow.
I’m reminded of this day because I recently celebrated 14 years of sobriety and today I facilitated a walk at the beautiful outdoor labyrinth at UCSB for several women who are in treatment. I’m so grateful to be able to take what I’ve learned and experienced and share it with others. I have no idea how this walk will impact these women or if their perspectives will change but I do know it’s a comforting experience – one which allows for self-compassion and forgiveness.
My hope is that these women will experience something that allows them to see more clearly. May it be so.
It’s not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.
~ Kristin Armstrong
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