A Change in Perspective Can Make All the Difference
Jess Lourey is the author of the Murder-by-Month series and has written fantasy, young adult, historical and non fiction works. She is also a tenured professor in Creative Writing and Sociology. Recently released is her Rewrite Your Life book that goes through the process of using writing to transform your life and all the experiences into a story. I sat down to ask her a couple of questions around her article on perspective shift and using writing as a way to help when things a bit too intense.
Your article talks about a trapped pheasant inspiring a lesson in perspective. The shift in perspective throughout the article is great!. How important do you think a shift in perspective for anyone who is going through difficult times, with family, work or something less apparent?
If you’re able to manage it, a perspective shift can transform pain into insight, loss into growth. However, if you’re elbow-deep in navigating a stressful situation, say a loss of a relationship or a job, a perspective shift might be a luxury you can’t access. I’m a proponent of being gentle on yourself in trying circumstances. When the dust settles, that’s when you can look for the lesson, the “poorly-wrapped gift,” in the wreckage. I’ve found the most amazing treasures in my darkest times.
The attitudes of those you ask for help is an excellent reflection of the response to most things in the Midwest, and Minnesota, and a good example of different perspectives right off the bat. Can simply being exposed to different responses to the same situation help us change our own views?
Surrounding yourself with curious and kind people who listen to you and respect you is one of the best life hacks I’ve discovered. My friends are great at hearing me out, and if I ask for perspective, they’ll give it to me, but here’s the thing: you can’t hear something you don’t want to hear, and so it’s our job as evolving humans to be open to change and growth. Sometimes life teaches us with a 2 x 4, sometimes we can learn from watching others, and sometimes if we’re well-loved (by ourselves or others), the growth happens organically.
A can do attitude and a bit of positive thinking seem to go a long way in reassuring ourselves of better things, but it can be hard to remember if you’re going through a tough situation.
Do you have any tips on how to avoid travelling down that ‘ít’s the worst thing that could ever be happening to me’’ road?
In Minnesota, we pack something that we call an Emergency Survival Kit in our cars. It’s a mix of warm clothing, candles, matches, and food, and we store it in our trunk so when our car inevitably slides into the ditch during one of our brutal winters, we can survive until we’re found (as I type that, I wonder why I still live here???).
I recommend all people pack something similar–an Emotional Survival Kit. Life is going to get hard for all of us sometimes, so pack what you’re going to need to get through that period: authentic deep friendships, cultivated self-awareness, and most importantly, insight of what you’ve learned from your past tough times.
This requires a personal inventory (I recommend journalling) of what gift was hidden in all of those past stressors, because I guarantee you there was one. If you can write down what it was, and refer back to that journal entry or entries next time life gets rocky, you’ll remember that it’s the squeeze that brings the juice, and this dark time is bringing you something good.
There’s a negative response to running over an animal at 60mph (Which is natural to say the least). Is there any benefits in taking a positive attitude towards such things or mistakes we make and treating it as a learning experience?
I think that when something crappy is happening, you should acknowledge that it’s pure crap, it’s terrible, and you wish you were anywhere else. Grieve in the moment, if you can, because emotions not respected now will pop up later in murky, gnarly ways. After you’ve grieved, or been angry, or done what you needed to do, then look for the lesson.
It’s said everything is better in retrospect, and I’m sure the bird agrees. Does this story give you any inspiration for writing things around perspective shifts?
I actually just published a book called Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction devoted to perspective shifts, and specifically, how you can heal yourself and craft powerful fiction by transforming your life experiences into a novel.
I have to ask, did you ever track down that pheasant again and thank it for the lesson?Hopefully he took a good lesson from the event.
Ha! I should track him down because he and I are war buddies now. However, I figure he’s too busy making new friends and family–I drove him far from where he lived–to have time for me, though. Maybe someday, when I have a thorn in my paw, I’ll meet him again.