Gaining a New Perspective
"The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests." --Epictetus
When faced with difficulties we often feel like we have no choice. We allow ourselves to become consumed by whatever the problem is. Sometimes it eats away at us until we can no longer function, leading to a downward spiral that feels like a bottomless pit.
But the truth is we always have a choice. We can always choose how we will respond to the circumstances of our lives. We can always choose our attitude in facing whatever comes.
That is not to say that making that choice is easy. Our overactive minds can make it very difficult to do anything but succumb to the negative thinking that overtakes us. Sometimes our thoughts are not even true; they are simply our brains reacting on automatic pilot. That's why practices like prayer and meditation are so valuable; they can allow us to let go of our thoughts long enough to gain a new perspective.
In the quote above, Epictetus (b.55 - d.135 AD) was obviously referring to the skill of ship captains, not airline pilots. And navigating boats through storms in the ocean are much different than navigating planes in the air. The metaphor of a stormy sea is a good one to describe how overwhelmed we can feel during the emotional storms of our lives.
But what if an airline pilot, seeing a turbulent storm ahead, continued to navigate on automatic pilot? I have never been a pilot, but if I was one and saw a storm on the horizon, I think I would want to turn off the automatic pilot, take control of the plane and fly high above the storm clouds.
Maybe you can do the same thing with the storms in your life. Maybe it is possible to turn off the automatic pilot in your brain. Maybe you can choose to respond positively rather than react negatively.
Try to get the 30,000 foot view, or maybe even a God's-eye view of the situation. What does your problem look like from that viewpoint?
"You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God's." -Jesus
"God is love." -St. John