“Everything’s going wrong at the moment!” “Things just couldn’t get worse!” are often sighed by people when they are under pressure. If you find yourself frequently using these expressions, then I want to show you three tools for dramatically changing this.
None of us see the world in which we live. What we actually see comes to us through a series of filters which we all use. These filters include our previous experience, what we know, and our emotional health at the time. Combined, these three factors form our perspective. Our perspective is just like our eyes – we mostly look through them rather than at them. And while we have access to things like mirrors and cameras to look at our eyes, our perspective has no immediate way to be viewed.
Rather than view our perspective as either right or wrong, it is better to consider our perspective as either helpful or unhelpful.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
First Corinthians 13:12
PERCEPTION AND PERSPECTIVE
I know how it feels when “Everything is going wrong”. It’s in these times that we all see our circumstances as the the problem. To make things seem worse, the rise of filmic entertainment and social media, has given the perception that everyone else’s life is far better than our own. That is, no-one else has the problems that I have because their lives are all full of celebrations and holidays by the beach! Their kids are perfectly behaved! They are loved and have someone to love! They have loads of money and no debt issues! While they’re swimming by the beach, I’m drowning in a sea of problems! Thus, our perspective has a direct bearing on our perception of the circumstances we are in.
but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
THE THREE KEYS SOLUTION
(i) our previous experience
(ii) what we know
(iii) our emotional health at the time.
1. USE EXPERIENCE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Consider then how you might face all of your current problems if you had experienced similar problems before to these and actually come through them unscathed. If you did have this prior experience, how might it affect your current perspective? This insight is the first key to successfully dealing with our overwhelming problems: draw on your past experiences of successfully coming through problems – or if you can’t, then find someone who has and learn from them! This is why younger people are more at risk of feeling overwhelmed by their problems than those who have a little more life-experience. Imagine if you could go back in time when you were facing another difficult season in your life and talk to yourself. What would you say? Could your talk with yourself have changed your perspective at that time?
2. LEARN WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Maybe you have not experienced anything like the difficulties you are facing now. But what if you had been shown by someone how to solve these difficulties, would that change your perspective? What if you had read about someone else who had gone through something similar and responded in a way that worked to solve the problem. Would that change your perspective for whatever you are facing now?
A few years ago I was asked to take on the management of a struggling not-for-profit organisation. This organisation was insolvent (which meant it couldn’t pay its bills or debts). Several people had previously tried to turn it around but had been unable. There are lots and lots of things that I have no clue on how to solve, but I do know a few things about how the business of not-for-profit ministry organisations needs to work. Within a few months, after implementing what I already knew, things began to turn around. As I met challenges I had never met before, I set out to learn what I needed to know. Because of what I knew, and some past experiences in not-for-profit organisational turn-arounds, the solutions to the vexing problems which this organisation faced seemed obvious to me. Perhaps you now face problems with confidence and ease which once overwhelmed you? If you are currently facing problems which are overwhelming you, you need to apply this second key by finding someone or something that can help you learn how to deal with it.
3. EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING
When I am emotionally drained it seems that my problems are multiplied and magnified. Some of my biggest problems have actually been solved by a good night sleep! Our physical well-being has a bearing on our emotional well-being. Our emotions are formed by chemicals which are released into our blood system. These chemicals can be released involuntarily (such as in a time of shock), as a result of our diet (such as when you only eat a high carbohydrate and high sugar diet which increases the likelihood of depression), and, a lack aerobic exercise deprives the body of healthy endorphins which the brain and body needs to experience happiness. Therefore, if you want to reduce the number and intensity of your problems, get more sleep and less screen-time, cut right down on sugar and carbs, and do something that will get your heart pumping and you gasping for air!
¶ You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
TELL ‘EM TO TAKE A NUMBER!
By drawing on your own or someone else’s experience to give you the confidence that you get through your difficulties, discovering strategies for better dealing with your problems (one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to “Tell your problems to take a number and get in line!” That is, deal with your biggest problems first and deal with them one at a time), and improving your diet and fitness, you’ll be amazed at what that can for your perspective of your problems. What you’ll find is that as your perspective shifts from the forest to the trees, you’ll discover that things aren’t nearly as bad as you had been thinking they were.
By using these three powerful keys you’ll find that even though your circumstances don’t change, your perception and perspective will. The Apostle Paul wrote to a church beginning to experience tremendous difficulties and hardship. Rather than telling them to pray that God might change their circumstances he encouraged them to look at their world differently: through the eyes of faith.
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Second Corinthians 5:7
And it was the Apostle John whom God used to bequeath to the Church The Revelation. This closing book of the Bible is all about changing perspectives. While massive and brutal persecution was ruthlessly being waged against Christians around the time that The Revelation was written (65 AD), the Apostle gave his beleaguered audience a glimpse into the eternal realm where Christ was triumphant over all. Rather than getting all worked up about some of the nonsense which has been promoted as the interpretation of The Revelation, it is very safe to interpret this book as reminding believers to have a different perspective on life’s difficulties. Perhaps this is why so many first century believers rejoiced to lay down their lives for their risen Saviour and to be so bold in their witness.
¶ After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”