Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Big Picture

A conversation over lunch last week with a good friend centered on the issue of people dear to us who hurt us deeply. My friend was struggling with the recent estrangement from her daughter and I could see what a painful situation this had become for her. I've so often found myself in this position, where I have been angry and resentful over a family rift or a friend's hurtful behavior. But over time, and through the help of mentors, I've learned that there's only one thing to do.

You have to look at The Big Picture.

There is always a reason why people behave the way they do and if you follow that thread and find the source, you will have a much broader perspective of the issue at hand. That offender's source of hurtful behavior may be fear, feelings of unworthiness, a painful upbringing, addiction ... any number of things may cause someone to behave badly, particularly on a continual basis. Look at the BIG picture, not just the argument you've had or the pain and anger it's caused you. Look through a wide lens. See everything.

It's like climbing up an orchard ladder and viewing the entire landscape around you. Get up there on the top rung, stick your head through the tops of the trees, and take it all in. What do you see? That person's whole life? Their hidden suffering? Their alcoholism which causes volatile behavior, even when sober? Their crappy, negligent parents? Again, there is always an explanation for the way people behave. (Including ourselves, let's not forget!)  Recognizing this, your anger and pain may very well shift to compassion and the problem, at least from your position, may be forgiven or even dissolve. As a result, you let go of your end of the tug-of-war rope and there is nothing left for the other to hang onto. Game over.

Big Picture applies to everything ... problem solving, facing our own fears, parenting, even the massive problems we see in the world today. If only we could all view the problems of the world from the top rung of the orchard ladder, we would really SEE the world as a whole community in a brighter light .... and solutions would be clear. Well, clear-ER. Not gonna go all Pollyanna on you. 

But we can't always live up there on the top rung of the orchard ladder and have the wisdom and insight to see The Big Picture when we are upset. Most of the time we are "on the ground" where our vision is limited. When in the throes of the wrong-doing, or the unfairness of it all, or the throbbing hurt, we forget to climb up there and look for the source of the behavior. That's because .....

We. Are. Human.

Unless you are the Dali Lama, you don't live in a constant state of enlightenment and wisdom. But you can take steps to be wise and enlightened. Next time you are hurting, try to remember to poke your head through the trees and look around. Pretty cool.


Fragrant Liar said...

Wise words indeed. xo

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Okay, Pollyanna. I'll have a better day today - poking my head out.