When Life is Hard and the World is a Scary Place

The world can feel like a bad place when we're alone with our thoughts.

Our uniqueness can feel like a barrier instead of our most valuable asset, keeping us from feeling connected to the world, the ones we love most, even ourselves.

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When we find ourselves unable to get away from a place of feeling hurt or slighted or misunderstood by people, or by life, we start to experience the world in extremes where every sideways glance from a stranger is a direct attack on us, and every political headline is a confirmation that the world we live in is dangerous, unjust, and evil.

In other words, we either see the world through the eyes of an ant, picking apart the tiniest details of our lives to serve as evidence of our negative perceptions, or we see the world through the eyes of an eagle, personalizing the entirety of the world's pain and making it our own.

When we feel stuck, alone, or disconnected, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to switch our view, and in doing so, switch our mindset.

When we are stuck in ant view, we are in a place where the most minor of disturbances can feel like a monumental devastation. Think of an ant in a rush to get food back to its nest and then coming to a tiny stream. To the ant, the stream will appear to be a massive obstacle to overcome, requiring massive strength and ingenuity to make it to the other side, if making it to the other side is even possible at all.

We feel this way when life is overwhelming. A cold response from a friend that might otherwise be barely a blip on our radar becomes an excruciatingly painful wound to be picked at and analyzed over and over in a futile search for relief. We dissect the minutia of our day looking for evidence to support the fact that our lives are unfair, painful, and just plain hard.

Now think of that same tiny stream from the viewpoint of an eagle flying high above the trees. The stream may not be registered at all to the eagle, or if it is, it's in the context of whether it holds anything of value, such as a fish.

Similarly, when we can step outside ourselves and look at a painful situation from a distance, we get to a place where we can start to find comfort and connection, and ultimately, peace.

So the cold response from the friend becomes much less about what you may or may not have done wrong and much more about remembering that you chose the people in your life for a reason, that people's moods and behaviors usually have nothing to do with you and everything to do with what's going on in their own heads, and that if your friend has a personal issue with you, you can trust them to communicate that to you. Otherwise you have no choice but to conclude that all is well.

Conversely, sometimes it is better to take the ant view. When the world feels chaotic, dangerous, full of one man-made or natural atrocity after another, it helps to take a step away from our social media feeds or TVs and instead take a closer look at the world we have build for ourselves.

There are good loving people everywhere because we are all born good and loving at our core. It's very likely that you encounter people who express their goodness and capacity for love to you on a daily basis, and who give you that love freely and unconditionally in return. 

Letting ourselves off the hook, even for a short while, from taking on the world's pain and suffering isn't selfish. If we want the world we live in to be a loving peaceful one, we have to live in the world with full acknowledgement and appreciation for the love and peace that already exist. 

You can always return back to ant or eagle view at any time, but the change in perspective will likely be valuable to you upon your return. The world's problems and our own struggles are valid and important. But somewhere in between, we can find peace, if only for a moment.

And this moment is really all there is.

If you'd like to work with me on changing perspective, please email me at amy@amybethacker.com, call 973-769-2401, or click here.