The Power of “Perspective”


I have Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease. Yeah,  I hadn’t heard of it either.  I only know about it because my mother was diagnosed a good 20 years ago, and because of its heritability, I was diagnosed too.

Historically the ladies in our family haven’t done so well, but I think that is because medicine wasn’t advanced enough to track renal failure and dialysis, transplants, etc weren’t around back then.  That said, my mother has benefited from all these advances and has lasted – and continues to last.  Which is a good sign for me?

As far as medical issues go I have inherited a “gentle” version.  My specialist tells me that I will see my children be whatever amazingness they are working towards, and there is always more research being done to find a cure.  But even with all this positivity, there are still those times when it hits me front and center, right between the eyeballs so to speak, and I feel highly confronted by thinking I have a potential expiry date.

I would never compare myself to others with far more intense and impactful diagnoses because they bring a whole other world of pressures I can’t pretend to understand.  Truly and honestly, nothing is wrong with me now other than a bit of high blood pressure and a strong recommendation that I learn to like drinking water (UGH!).

As such, I literally don’t spare the disease a second thought.  Sometimes though, very very very rarely,  I do startle awake in the early hours with a sharp twinge of fear in my chest.

First and foremost, I think about how I really don’t want to leave my children.  I could not imagine that.  I don’t want to imagine that.  They are the light of my life and the reason for my existence. The thought of leaving them without imparting as much knowledge as I possibly can plays on my mind incredibly on those infrequent 2 am mornings.

Secondly, I have realized that while the world yells, “don’t sweat the small stuff”, when you have a small insight into a (possibly) foreshortened demise, you actually realize you should value the small stuff.  I just spent an hour watering my very dead lawn with a glass of wine in hand.  It was heavenly.  And I loved staring at that dying grass and cursing the money we spent on a new front yard only to have it thwarted by darned Queensland weather.  I love worrying whether my bricks and mortar business will attract clients.  I love yelling at my husband for leaving his filth EVERYWHERE in our house.  (Really dude?)

Finally, I realize that ego-centricity is emotional death and deserves to be stamped out.  This is obscure so I’ll elaborate.  When all you care about is how perfect your selfie comes out.  When your boob size defines your sense of self.  When you can’t control your frustration because you’re being held up from living your incredibly “important” life?

When you feel like you deserve special treatment because you pay for it.  That’s all egocentricity.  It means, at that moment, you’ve stopped trying to understand someone else, and focused only on yourself.  Or you’ve stopped caring about others because you really just need to defend your patch.  Emotional death – right there.  You cease to feel part of this delicate gauzy fabric of humanity.

My teeny weeny little medical inconvenience has made me realize that at some point we all will end.  Seeing this gives perspective, and I am thankful for it.

Where is the useful information in this post???  Ummm, oh yeah, I should have a point shouldn’t I?  The thing I’m touching on is the power of perspective.  Understanding perspective is part of critical thinking, which in today’s culture is fading fast and I’m all for its resuscitation.  Here are things to do that enhance an understanding of perspective.

  1. Try running a Performance Review on yourself every 6 months. Think about where your focus has been and where your focus could be instead.  More precisely, imposing a perspective on yourself can be helpful when you are noticing a sense of being overwhelmed or depressed as a result of external triggers.
  2. Every day is a new day. Emotions evolve and mood changes.  Today’s worry may be tomorrow’s memory.  Contextualizing that we are fluid, not stagnant, is helpful for perspective and coping.
  3. Check in on your values. You could make this part of your Performance Review every 6 months.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others and realize that they are called “others” for a reason. We aren’t meant to be cookie cutter.

Perspective taking is not about minimizing your concerns.  It is about seeing each piece of the jigsaw for what it is and seeing how those pieces come together to make a whole.

And when you step back from your puzzle, when you can see all your pieces, isn’t it absolutely beautiful?