Weeds or Wishes

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Well before the pandemic and the unrest in our society, Psychologist Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D., wrote an inciteful article (July 30, 2018) for Psychology Today entitled: Have We Lost Perspective?

Leahy gives us several reasons as to why so many were (and are) upset. One principal offender is the media. Every show embraces the scenario of “If it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead,” along with the reality of what we see, “images that are violent are much more memorable.”

He suggests that “we are primed to think of the world as chaotic, dangerous and filled with imminent doom.” Then there are the narratives we are fed 24/7 on cable news, “they make their money out of making things dramatic and conflicted.” He noted that “no one is going to get a Pulitzer for describing how people got to work safely, their families went to college, and they paid their bills on time.”

Fast forward to today, where we are also bombarded with the constant buzz of COVID and how the fabric of American society has fallen apart.


The Prism

The prism, as you know, takes “white light” and separates it into colors. Depending on how we move the prism and change our perspective, different colors may appear to be more or less intense. The prism is an interesting euphemism for how each of us bends or moves our views to suit how we see the world.

I have two acquaintances, both otherwise lovely people, who incessantly watch the news. They are entirely fixated on the programming. One watches all conservative programming, the other, all progressive. They cannot talk to each other without arguing and refuse to bend their perspective to see another point of view. It seems a terrible waste of time and energy.

I might also add that another perspective bender is social media. People tend to friend, follow, or connect with those of similar persuasion. Suppose they are wrong or partially wrong on specific issues?

If our prism only allows us to see mean-spirited rants, then that’s precisely what will keep us up at night. Our perspective will be angry, bitter, frightened, and, most unfortunately, depressed. In fact, with some individuals, verydepressed. It is unfortunate when we allow those who want us to embrace everything about their perspective to so strongly influence us.

This leads me to the area of responsibility.


You Control Perspective

Despite those who want us to see the world in terms of doom and chaos, sickness, and fear, we can shut it down. It may be painful at first, and it may go against our “instincts,” but we have the power to turn away from the narratives of others and begin to think for ourselves.

White light is the combination of all colors. How we bend the prism to see more unique colors is up to us. Similarly, we can reject perspectives that are mean-spirited, violent, demeaning, or degrading. We do not have to accept anger, and indeed we should never accept hate and judgment.

Our perspectives should never include statements that include “they are all.” When we do that, our prisms might only show one color, one shade of a color.

The person sitting next to you is not much different than yourself. A change of perspective may turn that person from a prism to a mirror. We should all remember that the light we see in the “other’s” eyes are our faces.

Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path. When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds or a thousand wishes.



For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.