Adjusting Your Viewfinder: Upon What Do You Choose to Focus?
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By Karen McMahon, Featured Columnist - November 22, 2013

Fotolia_54511987_XS.jpgYesterday I spent the afternoon in traffic court with my 17-year-old son, Christopher.  In September just 10 days before his 17th birthday he received a ticket for driving without a license.  He had abided by my wishes in all but the last 5 minutes of the night when he drove my car 10 blocks home from his dad’s house.  After all, it was just 10 blocks, five minutes…what could happen??? 

The ticket came with a 3 point and $288 penalty.  A huge nut for a part time working high school senior and a killer on insurance!  Well I learned that traffic court is like ‘Let’s make a Deal’ and his ticket was quickly reduced to Jay Walking and $130.  AND the judge demanded that HE pay the entire amount (I love that part).

While waiting in court they have a TV screen and play videos from the red-light cameras.  For those of you who don’t have these, video cameras are all over NYC and Long Island catching drivers running red lights. 

The experience was a bit traumatizing as I watched vehicle after vehicle speed into intersections only to side swipe, hit head-on or just barely miss passing pedestrians.  It is actually quite shocking what goes on, on our streets!  At first we were all joking about the court’s choice of entertainment but after a few minutes the severity of the problem became crystal clear.  I was sold on the red light cameras immediately.  People are getting badly hurt and killed because of drivers who don’t have an extra few minutes to wait at a light.

I admittedly drive like an old lady…I have not always but I do in recent years and yet when in a rush, the opportunity to get through a yellow light changing red is tempting.  After court yesterday I was driving to a meeting and as I approached the yellow light the day’s videos flashed before my minds eye.  MY PERCEPTIONS HAD BEEN CHANGED.  No longer was I thinking about where I needed to go.  The only thought was the value of stopping safely at the red light.

Everything we think and consequently feel is based on our perception. 

When we realize that we can change the way we CHOOSE to perceive our circumstances, we are empowered to live life in a way that honors what is important to us.  The Redlight story highlights how quickly our mind can adjust to new perceptions.

Some examples:

You are a single mom with an ex that acts like Daddy Disney.  It’s not fair.  You have to be the disciplinarian (the bad guy) while trying to make ends meet.  When the kids come home boasting how wonderful daddy is because of what he bought them or the vacation they are going on, you understandable fume!  You would like to tell them all the reasons he is not ‘all that’.  (Hopefully you find a way to restrain yourself).

What if you looked at the situation differently…in a way that left you feeling grateful instead of angry? 

How do you do that? 

Whether your ex is being overly generous with your kids or introducing them to a new woman friend that they really like or bringing home a puppy so daddy’s house is the BEST place to be, you can be grateful that your children are getting attention, pleasure, joy in what their father is doing. 

The alternative is that they dread visiting or meating new girl friend or get nothing from dad. The new perspective is that while he may be XY&Z, he is also doing something that is positive for the kids and you can choose to be happy for them and about that.

OR another more general example...

Someone pushes your buttons, does something rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful, annoying…you name it.  Your reaction is to get angry or hurt. 

What if instead you looked at every ‘upset’ as a gift, yes that’s right.  Every upset is a ‘set up’ for us to look at our triggers.   What is happening in you that someone else’s behavior is having such a powerful affect on you? 

If you have been abused, then abusive words can hurt…it’s an opportunity to see where you still need healing.  The words are abusive, but your focus is on your healing, actually on benefiting from the shortcomings of someone else.  That might include you stating that you no longer accept unacceptable behavior.

If you have been controlled, then an overpowering personality can feel dangerous or overwhelming.  This may be an opportunity to see where you can continue to work on setting boundaries or voicing your truth.

The simple practice of asking ourselves the following questions when we are upset empowers us to change the way we choose to experience our circumstances.

  • How am I judging this person / situation ?
  • How might I look at him/her/ it differently?
  • What am I for (what is my desire)?  And how does my current perspective support or steal from that desire. 

If I am for being joyful and empowered, when I look at a situation from a victim perspective, how does this honor my desire?

I would not wish for you an experience as jarring as I had in traffic court to get you to change your perspective, however the experience does highlight how quickly our minds can adjust. 

Where would you like to adjust your perspective?  If you cannot figure out how to do it with your circumstances, ask and I will coach you though it.


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