My back was aching.
My eyelids were heavy.
My body was ready to get back in bed.
But my daughter wasn’t a fan of that plan.
It was the middle of the night and I awoke to her crying and fussing her way out of her slumber. I got up with whatever energy I could muster and picked her up. If I played my cards right, I could get her back down in just a minute or so, then crawl back into bed and knock out for a few more hours.
Lucy had other ideas, though.
She was having a hard time calming down, and I was having a hard time staying calm because of it.
My ego was frustrated that I couldn’t “fix” her fast enough.
My heart was sad because she wasn’t comfortable.
My shoulders…well, tense is an understatement.
We were both tired and cranky, yet neither one of us knew how to solve the problem.
Then, in an effort to soothe her, I began humming some country tunes under my breath. I wasn’t necessarily focused on the lyrics in the beginning. It was more about just putting some comforting vibrations into the air and trying to figure out if it helped or not.
After a minute or two, I realized I was humming the song, “You’re Gonna Miss This,” by Trace Adkins. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a song that shows the progression of a girl’s life and how at each stage, although she wanted to move quickly to the next season of her life, someone reminded her of what she would miss in the current moment. The chorus began to dance in my head:
You’re gonna miss this,
You’re gonna want this back,
You’re gonna wish these days,
Hadn’t gone by so fast,
These are some good times,
So take a good look around,
You may not know it now,
But you’re gonna miss this.
A wave of perspective came over me and suddenly my frustrations washed away.
As I looked down at my daughter, I knew that although I was exhausted and ready to get back in bed, there would definitely be a moment in time where I would miss a night like this with every fiber of my being.
Someday I won’t be able to hold her anymore.
Someday she won’t need me as badly as she did in that moment.
Someday this little crying session will seem minute compared to what’s to come as she goes through other growing pains.
Perspective can be an amazing prescription for:
Because when you zoom out from the problems that have taken all of your focus, the big picture doesn’t look as scary. In fact, you may just find–as I did in this middle of the night moment–that you can find the beauty with what originally had you stressed, frustrated, or anxious.
The path to perspective is one of questioning your present and trying to consider it’s role in the grand scheme of things. Some questions that you could ask to loosen the tension on your current reality are…
- Will this moment last forever?
- Will this matter in a week? A month? A year?
- Are my concerns a projection or a present reality?
Let’s break down each question to further explore their power.
Will This Moment Last Forever?
In our most maddening moments, there’s a subtle fear that sets in and whispers in your ear, “This is never going to end.”
But don’t let that fear take over, because it’s lying to you.
Flip this situation on its head and consider the most amazing moment(s) of your life. No matter how hard you tried, that day came and went as quickly as the one before it.
Times funny like that.
It will always keep moving.
Remind yourself that your current frustration is NOT permanent, because as you already know, nothing ever is.
Will This Matter in a Week? A Month? A Year?
The previous question gives you the perspective of time and how it doesn’t stop for anything—good or bad.
This question has you consider the magnitude of the moment that you’re in.
Sure it’s annoying.
Sure it pisses you off.
Sure you’re stressed out.
But will it matter tomorrow? Or the next day? Or next week?
Really stretch it out and think about how much weight your current stressors will have in the future. If you can realize that in the grand scheme of things your frustrations will be a blip on the radar, then you can take a deep breath and carry on.
Not many things will matter beyond the 24 hours in which they occur. Take the time to figure out if your situation will be worth your anxiety as the clock winds forward.
Are My Concerns a Projection or a Present Reality?
You can’t fix the future, you can only control the minute that you’re sitting in.
I say this because your stress may stem from the outcome that you’ve projected based on how your current circumstance is shaping up.
This can be applied to me, my daughter, and the crying fit that began this post.
When she started crying, I began stressing about:
- How much sleep I’ll miss out on.
- How the fact that she’s not sleeping will affect her development.
- How crazy it will make me if I can’t get her to go back to sleep.
It’s all projections.
I was just worried about the potential ramifications of not solving the problem, instead of pulling my focus to what was happening in that very moment.
The current reality was that she was crying and was uncomfortable.
She wasn’t unhealthy.
She wasn’t robbing me of anything.
She just needed her dad to rock her, not to worry about everything that would happen if he couldn’t get the job done.
Your projections are far scarier than what will happen if you just gave your attention to doing what needs to be done presently.
Perspective is an incredibly powerful tool…if you choose to use it.
These three questions will give your mind and attention enough space to see your circumstances for what they really are.
May your perspective be the prescription to your problems.