Changing the Lens
For years I was paralyzed by negative thoughts. It took counseling, vulnerability, faith, and friends to help me rise above. Here's the key takeaways from that intense season of struggling.
My daughter’s response is like clockwork. During this particular instance the sun was bright and the neighborhood was quiet but soon that peace would break with the incoming school bus and its payload. As usual my girls step from the bus with huge smiles and open arms for a welcoming hug.
“Ava,” I spoke sweetly to keep with the warm moment, “what was your favorite part of your day?” Quickly her smile broke, her eyes became sullen.
“There wasn’t any good parts,” Ava quietly shared, “only bad.”
This is a daily occurrence, literally. From my 7 year old Ava’s perspective she’s either always in trouble, people always picking on her, no one wants to play with her, she didn’t like breakfast/lunch/dinner, or the weather was too cold, or too hot … and please don’t get me started on her thoughts of clothing and hair. No day ever “goes her way.”
While I have no doubt that some of these thoughts are true, I’m certain that she focuses on the negative which then leaves no room for the positive.
It’s almost embarrassing to share that I have the same default mental state as a 7 year old. It’s okay to admit that here, right?
Though I do have the “negative nancy” syndrome, there have been some key thoughts that have propelled me in the direction of positivity.
We have intrinsic value.
Really everything after this nugget hinges on this. Let it seep in.
A conservative rate of the probability that you would be born is 1 in 400 trillion. Another calculation argues that it’s more in the realm of one in 10 to the 2,685,000th power.
From having 150,000 generations of ancestors successfully reproducing, your dad and mom meeting, that same couple enjoying the horizontal polka, and sperm and egg collide - there’s plenty of room for you not to come about.
Nope, you aren’t a 1:1 ratio; you are unique and your existence miraculous. Your value is in the fact that you are here and that by all likelihood shouldn’t be. Though despite that fact, humans aren’t satisfied to find value from simply existing. Instead we allow, and sometimes propagate that we must have accolades, titles, recognition, to gain value.
Striving for external value, I’ve discovered, only weighs people down and pushes people towards negativity.
We’re all growing.
The world demands some level of achievement or title around one’s neck in order for value to be claimed. This sucks ass y’all. The reason it sucks is if the statement you have to earn achievements or titles to have value is true, then the opposite is also true - if you don’t have accolades, or you’ve tried and failed you don’t have value. This is a sticky cycle of thought. Truth is, there is no pinnacle of perfection.
No one can tout that they have the award of perfect value in something. They are always growing, learning, making mistakes, and striving to get better. Understanding this makes even the most stellar of people approachable. They are growing and learning just like you.
There is a victory in each failure; seize them.
When I first started with photography I had an image in mind that I wanted to create: my 6 month old daughter encircled with evergreens and Christmas lights. Instead of angelic it looked like radioactive lettuce. During the moment I recalled a feeling of “At least the grandparents will like it.” The underwhelming image could have easily swayed me from continuing on my photography path. But instead I saw something that intrigued me - lighting the subject from light *off* my camera. I held on to that success that lead me to the style of photography I create today.
Since we’re all growing, there will be mistakes. There will be failures. But even so, I argue that there’s a success in each mistake. The success might be simply how not to do something again. It might be that one aspect was one point. Grasp that victorious detail and allow it to be the momentum to your next peak .
Good day vs good in each day.
This phrase might seem ominous. I often hug my girls in the morning before the school bus comes barreling down our road. During the embrace, trying to not eat their hair - there’s a lot of it - I remind them “Not each day is a good day, but there’s good in each day. Be on the lookout for it.”
It’s rather simple, but so hard to do. Negativity clings heavily to us like the humidity in the air. It can quickly cover us and swallow opportunity for positive thoughts. So we have to break out that towel and wipe it off, constantly. It’s tiring, at first, but it can become second nature.
I like to ask myself and others what were the things they’re proud of that day. Making an intentional effort to recall those plays a huge role in the trajectory of my perspective. If I have green-lensed glasses on, all I'll see is green. Meaning if you have the natural leaning to see things negatively, you'll see everything through that lens, even if it's not negative. It can be changed though.
Choose one of these headers and allow that to be your focus for the week. Say it out loud to yourself in the morning. Write it on your hand and share it over and over. You have intrinsic value, you are growing, there's a victory in each failure, and there's good in each day - and one more for extra measure, you're overwhelmingly loved by the One that created you, who seeks you out and wants to be known by you, Jesus.