Getting Perspective: The Closer You Are to Something, The Bigger It Seems

This article was originally published on the blog "I Try: The Additive Property of Happiness" on April 3, 2014. To see it in its original habitat, go here.

I was reminded of something today – a truth about perspective that I have found to apply to many aspects of lifeà The Closer You Are to Something, The Bigger It Seems
This is obviously true of objects… with the exception of mirrors. They can confuse the whole issue.  At this moment, I am convinced that one of their main purposes is to undermine my carefully constructed concept…But I may just be too close to the issue to see it clearly.
That happens to me a lot. I have been told, at times, that I blow things out of proportion. I’ve gotten a lot better about that over the years, but it still pops up now and again. I am convinced now, however, that the truth isn’t that I blow things out of proportion – the truth is that the closer I am to an issue the bigger it seems.
When I frame the problem this way, it is clear to me that it’s not my fault. It’s not even a matter of fault. It’s a matter of perspective – and the need to change mine. Of course I don’t know how to handle a situation, I’m too close to it to see it’s complexities, or lack thereof in some cases. If you’ve looked through a microscope then you’ll know that things can often be MUCH more complex the closer you get to them – but that complexity doesn’t often shift their nature. A bumble bee is still a bumble bee even though up close you can be mesmerized by all of it’s complexities. It can appear beautiful, dangerous, incredible – but, ultimately, it is a creature that, when you step back a bit, you see has purpose and value and is mostly nothing to be afraid of (not all bees sting, and even the ones that do rarely sting unless threatened – don’t be an anti bee-ite). Sure, you should respect it, plan your route in such a way as to make your interaction with it go as smoothly as possible, and generally give it space – but you don’t need to fear it. You certainly should avoid going into hysterics over it.
Bees are a great example of what I am saying, too, because some people SHOULD take certain bees VERY seriously.  Those with life threatening bee allergies, for example, need to be extra cautious. Not everyone HAS a life threatening bee allergy, though. In fact, most of us don’t. Those without said allergies cause more problems for themselves and those around them by overblowing the situation than they would if they just took a mental step back and got some perspective. A lot of things are like that – really serious for some people, but really not for most of us. An excessive reaction to something can cause a lot more distress than the actual something could on its own. It’s understandable why that happens with bees – if you know one person who has to carry an epi pen then you know how serious they can be and you can easily get afraid – but the facts don’t bear that fear out for most of us. We need to change our perspective.
So, I’m not actually blowing things out of proportion most of the time – I’m just too close to an issue. I allow a situation to seem a lot bigger and more complex to me because I am right in the middle of it. 
“Something” can be just about anything. It can be a project you have to get done, a tough semester or stretch at work, a relationship conflict – anything. Sometimes it’s just an idea or a fear.  (I know a lot about fears.) When you’re in it or next to it, it seems so big. When you’re right up against a wall it can seem very difficult to find a door.
When you’re in a situation like that you need to figure out a way to step back. Slow your roll. Take a few deep breaths and get some perspective.
Of course, recognizing when you're too close to something be awfully tough. Here’s tidbit I’ve picked up, though – if you’re not absolutely certain that you’re NOT too close to something to be able to get a clearer picture, it’s not going to hurt a bit to take a step back and check.
Go ahead, step back. Things don’t seem so big when you’re not so close to them.


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