Max Planck, the father and founder of quantum physics one day stated “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
It is only recently that I fully understood the meaning of this statement - everything is about perspective. When you approach things from a different perspective, you see things in a different light. But this is easier said than done as it is a combination of our emotions, beliefs and conditioning (societal, education and cultural) that forges our perspective.
The biggest problem is that we are not always aware of what our beliefs are, nor are we always fully in control of our emotions and as such our perspective is often swayed. We are triggered into making decisions that are not coming from a place of clarity and level headedness but from a place of fear. Our judgement is clouded by our emotions and prejudice and we no longer see things as they really are which often makes a bad situation appear worse than it really is.
The question is how do we stop all this excess information from coming in and making our lives more difficult than they already are? How can we make sure that we are seeing things as they truly are and making decisions that are both rational and sensible?
When I was at the deepest depths of my grief, I would often wonder when the pain would end if I would ever feel like myself again. For almost 2 years life somehow went on but I continued to feel numb and found it difficult to care about anything...it felt like life would never be fully worth living again. By mid 2018 things were simply too much to bear and I had a mental breakdown. I quit my job, moved out of my house and headed south to Shimoni - a small village on the Kenyan coast - where I lived in a 1 man tent with no hot water or electricity for 2 months. It was absolute bliss and the start of a new me.
With very little social interaction, almost no technology, no drugs or alcohol it was like I was finally at peace. It was like I finally had the space to breathe and make decisions for myself without worrying about everything and everyone else. I finally had the time to just be, not rushing around all the time thinking of things that needed to be done, I had the time to just sit and watch the ocean for hours and not have to think about anything. The true transformation however came after reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
My perspective on life in general changed after reading this book which teaches the importance of being fully present in the NOW. He shows how the mind is prone to overthinking and how our emotions and judgement about something leads us to tell ourselves certain stories in order to make our lives easier. This is the victim complex we develop where we don’t take responsibility for our actions and continuously think that bad things are happening to us. It is important to remember that while we may not have control over a particular situation, we always have a choice in how we choose to perceive that situation and how we choose to take action.
I was able to identify some of the stories I was telling myself and where I was not taking responsibility for the ways in which I contributed to the situation I was trying to run away from. I was able to start noticing when my mind would start chattering away leading me back into a cycle of negative thinking and therefore giving me a negative perspective on life. I began to understand that the only reason I felt taken advantage of by my friends and family or by my job was because I allowed them to; I had not put in place healthy boundaries by knowing when to say no or when I had had enough.
When we begin to take notice of our mind, our thoughts and the stories we tell ourselves, we begin to notice how our conditioning has led us to do things that we do not believe in. In most cases, society has taught us that saying no makes us selfish, but how can we fully show up each day as the best version of ourselves if we are constantly giving and giving and doing things to benefit others at our own cost?
One of the reasons so many people have mental breakdowns or burn outs these days is because we don’t know when to stop and just BE. Because our minds are constantly sending a stream of negative thoughts about how we are not good enough or how we should be doing more, we don’t know how to just stop and make sure we are ok. We do not know how to truly love and care for ourselves as we have been made to feel that putting ourselves first is selfish. How can we continue to show up in our lives each day if we are broken and have nothing left to give the world?