Theme of the Month: Perspective, July 2020
Perspective is a function of experience. In other words, the less experience we have, the more narrow a perspective we are able to bring to a situation. Our point of view or perspective is always evolving based on our age, maturity, and circumstances. Sometimes, when we are younger, we struggle with the all-too-common perspective trap known as “the grass is always greener.” We long for things that others have, convincing ourselves that our own things are not good enough. As we grow up, most of us progress out of this scarcity mindset and we begin to move toward understanding the concept of good enough.
Brene Brown, a professor at the University of Houston and a researcher on shame and vulnerability, suggests: “We live in a culture with a strong sense of scarcity. We wake up in the morning and we say, 'I didn't get enough sleep.' And we hit the pillow saying, 'I didn't get enough done.’ We're never thin enough, extraordinary enough or good enough – until we decide that we are. ‘For me," says Brown, ‘the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It's enough. I'm enough. My kids are enough."
The notion of a "good enough mother" was first coined in 1953 by Donald Winnicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst. Winnicott observed thousands of babies and their mothers, and he came to realize that babies and children actually benefit when their mothers fail them in manageable ways. In other words, Winnicott’s research proved that “good enough” caregiving was actually better than perfect caregiving for these babies. This invitation to be just good enough is comforting, especially when our perspective gets clouded, and we catch ourselves longing for unnecessary perfection.
Going for a long hike in the woods or riding a bike on back roads can sometimes be enough of a perspective shift to remind us that usually, what we already have is plenty. When we shift our perspective away from wanting more to being grateful for what’s already available to us, we usually begin to feel better immediately. Oprah has a quick fix she offers for a bad mood; she says that if you catch yourself in a negative thought cycle, you should pause and find five things you are grateful for in that moment. Again, forcing ourselves to make a quick perspective shift can make all the difference.
Our monthly content is ideated and written by Cristina Young, LCSW, who has more than 25 years of experience providing professional support to children, adolescents, adults, and families.