Did I mention that I’d been on a retreat a couple of weeks ago? This is something that I do two or three times a year, and the most recent one got me thinking about how important it is to get a little distance so that we can see things more clearly.
We can certainly get some distance when we’re away from home – whether that’s a retreat, holiday or work trip (as long as none of those are too jam-packed with activity) – and we often come home with some new inspiration about what needs changing and what we’re going to do differently. Being on retreat, at least the kind I go to, amplifies that possibility because we’re spending time in silence, we’re being very mindful in the way we approach our everyday activities, and we’re usually staying away from phones, computers and often any kind of reading at all. Without fail, I end up with new insights about my life and some ideas about how to bring my life more into alignment with my values.
But we don’t have to go on retreats or even go away from home to get the benefits of distance. Our memories of things that happened in the past can also give us some perspective. Maybe we realise as we get older that we were too hard on ourselves when we were younger, or that we wasted a lot of time on things that didn’t really benefit ourselves or anyone else. Or, with time, we might get some insight into the other person’s point of view in an argument or dispute and have the painful recognition that we didn’t have the moral high ground after all. When distance and perspective give us that kind of insight, it’s really important to forgive ourselves for being human and resolve to do our best to avoid making the same mistake again. (I say ‘do our best’ because we often have to make that mistake quite a few times before we really manage to do better! Or is that just me ……) So make apologies and amends if that’s appropriate, but let’s not beat ourselves up – life can be hard enough without us turning on ourselves!
Another bit of perspective that made me laugh on the retreat involved reading an old journal entry. I’d just reached the end of my notebook and decided to take it with me to look back on (as well as the shiny new one to write my retreat notes in – did I ever mention my notebook fetish?). I don’t write a journal consistently so there are spells of daily entries followed by months of nothing. It was a thick notebook and the first entries dated back to 2010. I came across one where I was clearly distressed about what I was going to do about the ‘Linda situation’. Well, I racked my brains and kept coming back to it over the weekend but for the life of me I have no idea who Linda was or what she had done to upset me. Just a little reminder for me to keep that sense of perspective – whatever I was worrying about clearly didn’t have any major consequences and what was a big deal at the time is not even a distant memory now – it’s completely gone!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.