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Gaining Perspective


I really believe that part of being resilient is learning to get perspective. To get a different perspective, actually. My client who is struggling with the recent death of her mother feels guilty because she would have spent more time with her mother if she had known when her mother was going to die. Her perspective currently is through the filter of extreme grief where, because she knows now when her mother died, she feels that she would have, should have, could have done more. In awhile, after time has passed, she’ll gain a new perspective. She will realize that she could not have known when her mother was going to die and that she actually had a very are rich and meaningful last few days with her mother.

Many of the people I have talked with who are dealing with financial grief of some sort tell me that perspective has helped them as well. They have found new opportunities after losing a job, a house, or other precious assets. New and more meaningful careers, a simpler lifestyle, and renewed gratitude for life just as it is are some of the gifts born from what seemed to be tragic losses. “I never thought anything good would come from my being unemployed, Bobbi,” one woman told me, “But my relationship with my husband has become so much richer. It’s because we have more time together now!”

Awhile back, I heard an amazing show on Talk of the Nation on NPR. They were talking with people who, because of the poor economy, were in difficult financial circumstances and had to be on food stamps for the first time in their lives. Surprisingly, many of them enjoyed the experience! “I think everyone should have to do it at some time in their lives,” one caller said, “I learned a ton about budgeting, buying healthy foods, and how to cook well.”

One more example: Shortly before my late partner died, I emailed friends and family that she was in a coma. My aunt wrote back and said, “Bobbi, I think Ruth is not in a coma, but a comma. Just a little pause in the journey before she continues on.” This new perspective brought me peace and even some joy as I contemplated Ruth’s “comma” before she passed on to the new part of her journey.

It’s really easy to think that our current perspective is the only one or the true one. But this limits our ability to enjoy new learning opportunities and seeing gifts where we thought there were none. We think a beautiful thing that has become cracked is now ruined. Yet, as Leonard Cohen says, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”



  1. HeyAnnis says:

    Well, isn't this the truth! Thanks again, Bobbi, for making us think about how we think. And, I love the Leonard Cohen line.

  2. Loriirwin says:

    I truly believe that our personal perspectives help shape our reality. As our perspectives change through living and learning, as we continue to "experience" life, so does our reality.

    I agree with Mr. Cohen, if the "light" doesn't get in, or if the "blinders" don't come off, there would be very little change…

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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.