5 Minute Recovery: Shifting Perspectives

Categories: General

Today’s 5 Minute Recovery will focus on shifting perspectives. These are the optics of the mind that let you see as though you were looking through a telescope, binoculars, or a microscope. Each of these viewpoints highlights something different, and has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Being able to shift from one perspective to another is a strong advantage in recovery. This skill can be applied to self assessment, dealing with cravings, problem solving, time management, emotional control, and setting priorities.

Learn to Shift Perspectives

Nine months ago I went to the optometrist and had my eyes checked. I was struggling to see clearly. As I struggled, I developed some weird habits like squinting, straining, stretching, and tilting my head. These behaviors were an effort to get things into focus.

The optometrist said I needed glasses that corrected my vision up close, at mid-range, and at long distance. She also said, I needed to correct for astigmatism. The prescription was for progressive lenses.

When I picked them up I immediately put them on and walked out of the store. Within minutes I had motion sickness. Everything was moving in and out of focus and my brain was trying to make sense of it all.

I had to learn how to pick my line of sight according to what I was doing. This skill took some time to learn and required my commitment to make the adjustment.

Shifting perspective
The right lens brings things into focus

The same thing happens in recovery. You and I have a natural viewpoint or a way of looking at the world. As things change, we need to develop our ability to shift perspectives so that we can see clearly once again. Today’s post is about shifting perspectives among three broad categories: the future, the past, and the present. 

The Future Focused

You might be one of those future focused people always thinking and talking about something in the future, Your idea of the future could be later today, later this week, or later this year. This natural viewpoint is prone to anxiety because all fear is based in the idea that something bad is about to happen. In an effort to reduce fear and anxiety this type can become controlling.  However, a future focus also has benefits like hope, possibilities, and second chances. 

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker

The Past Focused

You might be one of those past focused people always remembering something from yesterday, last week, last month or last year. You might think of this as being sentimental and having deep emotional connections. The past has shaped us and is the best predictor of our future. So there are many benefits to studying our past. However, this type is prone to getting stuck in regret, disappointment, or discouragement.

It’s not the sentiments of men which make history but their actions.

Norman Mailer

The Present Focused

You might be a present focused person if you tend to pursue pleasure, excitement, and novelty. “Here and now” types are naturally grounded through their senses. They appreciate life, nature, and the people around them. This type is prone to over value feelings which can make them vulnerable to immediate gratification, or avoidance of things felt to be boring, difficult, or repetitive.  

You gotta be in the NOW to create and experience the WOW!

Roy Bennett

Learning to shift perspectives can be helpful when the optics of our mind are chaotic. By thinking on all three levels we minimize the risks while simultaneously maximizing the benefits. When this is done in the pursuit of recovery, shifting perspectives can help us avoid relapse, deal with cravings, and make intentional choices for our genuine good. There is a time and place to focus on things of the past, present, or future. We must learn this skill to take full advantage of it.

Standing between the past and the future is your present.

5 Minute Recovery

In today’s five minute recovery I want you to consider your natural viewpoint of past, present, or future. Here are a few questions to direct your thinking.

What is your natural viewpoint?

How has your natural viewpoint been helpful?

When is your natural viewpoint not so helpful?

Under what circumstances, could the ability to shift your perspective enhance your recovery?

Author: Todd Davis, PhD, MFT, LADC

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