Put the book on the table

A few years ago, a friend of mine was really struggling. She was going through a season of change and was so upset by her current situation that she was obsessing about it. She felt overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do.

I listened to her share the details and she asked for my advice.

“Pretend this book is the problem”, I said. “This is what’s upsetting you.”

And then I held it directly in front of my face.

“When you look at the book from this perspective, what do you see?”

“I see the book,” she answered.

“What else do you see?”

“Nothing”, she said.

“But here’s something interesting,” I continued. “When I put the book here on the table, its not gone.  It’s still here and I can still see it. Clearly in fact. But I can also see my cup, this table, the window, other people around us and so on. All of those things represent everything else in your life that is NOT the problem.” I explained.

“You don’t need to ignore the problem or pretend it’s not here. But you can see it in the context of everything else. The truth is, you get to choose what you focus on. And sometimes you get so zoomed in on your problems that you lose sight of everything else. In those moments, you need to take a step back and put things in perspective. This puts you in a better position to work toward a solution.”

This simple enactment resonated with her and she shifted her perspective almost immediately.

Put the book on the table. It just might help.