All Problems Look Smaller From A Distance

Remember the first time you took off in an airplane, or maybe that one time you took your crush up to the view-point that overlooked your city; and when you looked down your entire perception of just how big your world was shattered in a matter of seconds.

It’s pretty ironic how the further you get from something, the more of it you begin to see; it’s as if every step backwards brings clarity to what it is you are actually looking at.

This same phenomenon is applicable to dealing with just about every internal issues we face.

The Biggest Little Problems:

When we are in the midst of a crisis we usually resort to a state of panic, due to the proximity of the problem. Small issues are magnified, and begin to look like giants.

We feel that we are able to give advice to others because we can see their problem from more angles than they might be able to. However, when it come to our own issues they often seem to be undefeatable monsters.

Think about when someone comes up to you with an issue they’ve been dealing with, it often times does not seem as big a deal to us as it is to them.  When we view somebody else’s dilemma we view it with a much wider lens, and from a higher vantage point.

Our emotional connection to our own problem is also a huge factor in how we deal with conflict resolution within ourselves; we are almost hardwired to only want to view things from a victim’s perspective, and literally have to train ourselves out of this mentality.

Busy Becky’s Story: Becky was a busy body perfectionist, almost to the point of OCD; she had to have everything in the right place, at the right time; including the people in her life. She often took it upon herself to create schedules for people who came to her for life advice; believing that all issues came from a lack of organization…so you can only image what her schedule looked like; about as flexible as peanut brittle. On one summer morning Becky woke up to her usual morning routine of hot Pilates. When she arrived outside of her class however the doors were locked, and a sign was up that read ” Class is Canceled Today :(“. She became frustrated at the hick up in her schedule, so she went home to do her own private session. After pilates she went to the fridge to make her regular breakfast that included eggs, toast, and avocado. Once she got to the fridge there was everything but her regular breakfast; this brought her to a whole new level of anxiety, and from that point forth she decided that her day had been ruined. She aggressively brushed her teeth, showered, and got dressed in her Saturday outfit ready to go to the office. When Becky headed out of the door she was met by a scene that included an ambulance, firetrucks, and a few squad cars; she looked over at her neighbor’s house in confusion. The sweet old lady she used to see every morning, doing her morning tai chi, was now being pushed out of her house in a stretcher. Becky ran over to get a better view of what it what that had happened; she was stopped by a police officer who warned her to keep her distance. The old woman was wheeled past her, and Becky asked about what had occurred; the old woman responded saying, ” a change of plans”. What had actually happened was that she experienced a heart attack that almost left her lifeless, but thank’s to her grandson who happened to make a random visit that morning she was saved. Amy spent the rest of her day contemplating on how significant her schedule really was. She decided to let the day flow as it may, and it turned out to be the best day she had in years.

Life has a funny way of giving us perspective of just how big the minor issues in our lives are, and more times than not they are exactly that; all it takes is a slight readjustment.

Step Back:

In the Jungle:  Due to our 2 million year old brains, we have been predisposed to being problem oriented creatures. There were many times in our history in which we faced actual dangers, and threats on a daily basis; whether it be protecting our babies from the Jaguar, or trying to survive a drought.

Our ability to focus on an immediate threat gave us the ability to priorities it, and make sure it was handled before all else.

Take this same brain, and place it in the 21st century where the threats are minuscule and you have just about everything turning into an end of the world scenario; everything that threatens our comfort that is.

Since it is unlikely that we will be running from a lion anytime soon, we might as well chose to put our focus on those things that truly matter.

The Big Step Back: One of the toughest things to do when faced with a dilemma is to take a step back from it, and simply observe its actual scale. This step back is especially difficult in a culture where we are constantly looking down.

Our perspective becomes extremely narrowed when we have our focus on a single menial aspect of modern life. When we spend a majority of the day on our phones that is where our concentration goes, and like I mentioned prior our focus establishes the center of our problems.

Some of these new age “problems” would sound a little something like this, ” my wifi isn’t fast enough..I’m tired of answering emails..why won’t she text me back…my phones too old, I need a phone NOW”.

How ridiculous do these comments sound now that you hear them from the outside? But how many times have we told ourselves these exact thing? ( I won’t judge, I do it too)

When I think of this I am reminded of a story that I heard from an old-time motivation speaker named Zig Ziglar. The story was of a man who had on old tattered shoes, and everyday he would complained about just how old and ragged his shoes were. This is until he met a man who could not even afford shoes, yet this man had a smile on his face, and thanked God for a pair of legs. The man with the tattered shoes gained a better point of reference when it came to what an actual problem was.

There is something we can all take away from this story, something we can apply to every aspect of our internal lives. Instead of complaining, which magnifies the issue we should take a step back from it, and actually question it’s validity. If it is something that does not affect our, or those around us well-being then it is probably not an actual problem.


The Switch: The quickest way to remove yourself from your said “problem”, and give it a better point of reference, is by looking at a real problem outside of yourselves.

So let’s say you missed your phone bill payment because you had to pay rent, and your boss says they can only pay you in a week. For the next 5 days you are going around with a service-less phone, and you feel like the most unfortunate person on the planet. Now think about the person whose rent is due in 4 days, but their paycheck only comes in two weeks from now; this person would be facing an eviction in less than a week.

Take one more further step back, and you’ll see the father of  three kid who was just evicted after losing his job. He must now move his children into a homeless shelter, or into his car.

Want to take it one step further; think about the woman in this exact same situation that has no car…Yeah.

If at this point you are still not able to see your own issues as just a small bump in the road, then nothing will let you see this.

I believe that the more empathy you have for others, the less attention you will give time to your own hurdles. The less focus you put on whatever is worrying you, then the more time you have to spend on growth, and the more you grow the more you can help others with what they are dealing with. Before you know it you will begin to view your life from a place of gratitude, and become thankful that you can even have a car problem; for the next woman may not have a car.

Sure we all want to feel sorry for ourselves every now and then, but when we see ourself falling too deep into a spiral of self-loathing just remember to take a few step’s back; and get a true point of you.

-Tinashe Hwande

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