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289: When You Need to Zoom Out for a Little Perspective

On Air with Ella - podcast episode 289 - originally aired as #203, May 2020


Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself that looks pretty good and for some reason decide to zoom in and you’re like, "NO. Ahhhhh. Zoom out!!!" Or, in reverse, have you seen a picture of something that’s soooo zoomed in you can’t tell what it is? It could be a cute little ladybug, but if you’re zoomed in too close, you have no idea. You have no context for just a blurry, shiny red thing. You have to zoom out to give it shape, to give perspective to the thing.

I want to talk to you about the power, the necessity of Zooming Out. 

You’ve heard the adage “what you you focus on grows,” right? It’s true. What ever you direct your brain on, that’s what will reside top-of-mind for you. If you watch tv news for 3 hours, I promise you that you will have a different perspective than someone who just spent the past 3 hours in a soup kitchen, or on a hike in the Alps, or in a hospital to welcome a new baby, or in a hospital saying goodbye to someone they love... That’s simple, right?

What you choose to set the power of your thought on is the lens through which you’ll see the world for a short time, and if you repeat that pattern over and over again, this becomes how you see the world. 

That’s not good or bad. It’s neutral.

For example...I have a friend who is selling her house right now. If you’ve had that experience you know it can be REALLY stressful. Really emotional. You have the pricing, and the negotiating, and the inspection, and the expenses, and the need to keep it spotlessly clean while you live in it and can be a nightmare. So she’s selling her house and she is STRESSED. I mean, stomach cramps, bad sleep, grind-your-teeth stressed. And I get it. But I had to be honest with her - because I love her and I don’t want to see her in a bad way - and while she’s stressing to me about this and saying “agggghhh, what am I to do?” I said "you need to zoom out!"

What? ZOOM OUT, my friend. You have not lost your job, your home is not a financial burden to you, you are not desperate, you are fine. All is well. But, zoom out even further. You are a healthy, beautiful woman. You love your family and have joy in your life. You love your dogs. You have work to do, and time and freedom to do it. Your problems are all problems of opportunity. That’s not always the case.

And you are fully entitled to the stress (let me clear about that - this is not about saying “you don’t have real problems”), no, the point is that the moment it starts to dominate your day, your vision, the lens through which you’re viewing everything...You can choose to zoom out. It’s all still there, but you can make it smaller.

"Sometimes life will do this to you of its own volition. Something might wake you up, break your focus - a pregnancy, a new job opportunity, a new friend, a book, a breakthrough. And sometimes, my friend, you have to do it yourself. 

My husband and I recently finished a renovation on a house that we recently bought and gutted. (By the way, if you want to test your ability to zoom out, try renovating a house!) I would walk through the house and see one grout line or a corner of a tile or - god forbid - an actual mark on the floor - the floor! - and I would lose all joy in the beauty of what we’ve created. FOR MONTHS, I did this.

My husband would work all day with the contractors and I would walk in and be like, "um, there’s a .03 nanometer difference in this now-non-symmetrical-thing that literally no other human eye can detect. Am I supposed to live like this?" I was not only a total joy to live with, but I robbed myself of the real view because I was so zoomed in.

(I actually made myself stay out of the house one week so that I could walk in when we were just about done and see it with fresh eyes. See the whole thing for what it was. See the pretty spaces we’ve made. See the room, not the nanometer-sized bits that made up the whole.)

I think this is one reason we gain wisdom with age.

The more years you have, the more material you have for zooming out, the easier it can be. When my bonus daughter was in high school, I would say to her, "I promise you you won’t even remember these girls’ names in a few years." She couldn’t zoom out at the time because where was she gonna go? But I’m 15 years older, so I can see that when her life has more breadth, she’d have to zoom way, way in to see these little flecks. They were big, and they became flecks as her life got bigger and broader. Age and experiences both help you organically widen your lens.

I had to do this to come to terms with my body issues, my quest for perfection, my disordered relationship with food, my inability to see past these issues that I let dominate my view and color my lens for so long. I prayed for the ability to ZOOM OUT. I practiced it as a mental exercise. I actually found the words helpful - "Ah, I gotta zoom out here."

So, I stopped listening to podcasts that told me to hack my way to a perfect physique or perfect health. I stopped looking at social media accounts of people who frankly made me feel like crap when I looked at them. That’s not their fault, by the way. It’s my job to be aware of it, and to patrol my own borders. So if I truly wanted to zoom out, I had to fill my frame with other images - in this case, literally.

Sometimes life will do this to you of its own volition. Something might wake you up, break your myopic focus, insert itself in your field of vision - a pregnancy, a new job opportunity, a new friend, a book, a breakthrough. And sometimes, my friend, you have to do it yourself. 

So where could you zoom out a bit for some perspective? To see more in your field of vision? To make a thing smaller by putting it in context? Where could you open your eyes more? To how loved you are? Or How beautiful life is? Or how you are here for SO MUCH MORE than that thing you’re making bigger with your laser-like focus on it?

Where are you overwhelmed? What feels too big to you right now?

Can you zoom out a bit? Can you change your microscope to a wide-angle lens as a mental exercise?

Where can you zoom out? Where did you? How did things look different to you when you did? What else did you see in your life when you zoomed out. 

Let’s talk about it. Hop over to Instagram and drop me a note, or comment here! xx Ella


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