Keeping Perspective

I love the commercial for the Tide spot remover pen. The commercial shows a guy interviewing with a spot of his white shirt. Suddenly, the spot begins to move and speak. The interviewer starts staring at the spot as it speaks and totally focuses on the spot, not the guy who he is interviewing. The person conducting the interview lost perspective; all he saw was the spot. Another example is when you are eating with someone and they have a spot of food on their cheek or mouth; you lose focus of what they are saying because all you can see is the food. My kids can't stand for me to have a spot of food. They are the spot police. I always tell them that I am saving it for later.


It is funny when someone does have food on their cheek and how we miss what they are saying and just focus on the spot of food, or even a bead of sweat (For the older amongst us ... SNL Rosana Rosana-Dana... "You just want to flick it!"). In that scenario it is funny. Unfortunately, in other examples it is no longer funny, but can become destructive or tragic. Dr. Amy Bishop at UAH lost perspective and 6 people's lives became less important than her getting tenure. Her kids and her husband lost too. Amy focused on one thing and could not see any other perspective.

It is easy to use Amy Bishop as an example, but I have been guilty of losing perspective too. At work it is so easy to focus on 1 or 2 things that you don't like about your employer and then do something that is unethical to "get back" at your employer. Or what about a fellow employee, do they do one thing that annoys you and you lose focus. The annoying thing becomes so great in your mind that you will say or do mean things about him or her.

In marriage it is easy to lose focus. Your spouse does one thing that annoys you. The more you think about it, the more it annoys you. Now, whenever they do that one thing, you go ballistic. Have you lost focus or perspective? Many marriages are ruined by a spouse losing perspective. You focus on the 1 or 2 negative things and don't focus on all the positive aspects of your spouse. You become nagging or start to ignore or neglect the relationship because one thing bugs you.

When you or I lose perspective it is always easier to blame the other person than to blame ourselves. It is easier to focus on the other person's fault than to admit that maybe I am the one who is at fault for placing too much emphasis on one issue.

If you have a complaint with another person's behavior, remember this one truth: you cannot change another person's behavior, no matter what you do. The only person's behavior that can be changed by you is your behavior. You can change yourself for the better and many times the other person will change out of your positive response. Negative feedback such as nagging or complaining does not deliver positive change. If there is change in another person, the change is generally temporary. Negative responses typically drive the other person away or make the other person resent you. If a person changes, then they chose to change. Positive reinforcement of what a person is doing right is the way to get real and lasting change.

Ken Blanchard in the book Whale Done shares how the killer whales are trained through positive reinforcement. The trainer reward and encourage the positive behaviors and then redirect or ignore the negative behaviors of the whales. For most humans, they can't imagine ignoring the negative behavior and then focus on the negative behavior and complain or try to correct it. Psychological research continually shows that focusing on positive behavior delivers faster and better results than just focusing on the negative. Focus and encourage the behavior you want. Stop focusing on the behavior you don't want. You typically get what you focus on.

So, ask yourself "Do I primarily focus on the negative behaviors of those I work or interact with?" "Do all I see is the problems in my marriage?" "As a teacher, do all I comment on is the negative behavior of my students?" What you see is a choice. I hope you look for the positive and reinforce the positive. You will be richly rewarded.


Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace for those who hear."

V 31-32 "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted , forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

When you lose perspective, you tend to justify the mean things you think, say or do. You tend to justify your anger and think the other person deserves what they get. To keep your life in real perspective, remember that you are not perfect and have done wrong. God has every reason to totally reject you and send you into eternal darkness. Instead, God chose to forgive you through having his son pay your debt by dying on the cross. God offers this forgiveness as a gift that you must chose to receive. I hope that you will choose to receive God's gift, and you will then forgive those who have offended you- in your marriage, in your work, in your family or other relationships.


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