Not many people would disagree that world changers, entrepreneurs, and visionaries are passionate people. Passion people invest so fully physically, emotionally, and mentally that it is easy for them to lose perspective. The problem with losing perspective is that we can no longer trust our perceptions to be accurate. This might not seem like a big deal but let’s talk for a minute about how important our perceptions are.
Our bodies react essentially the same way on a biochemical level to stress or threat whether it is real or imagined. When we are alert to what is going on we can moderate these reactions. For example, if you were to imagine a tiger chasing you, your body would start to mobilize you to be ready to run. It would release a series of hormones from your endocrine system that would increase your blood sugar, decrease your digestion, and pump adrenalin among other things, so that you were prepared to run as fast as you were able away from the tiger. Our bodies prepare us to be able to flee whether we are facing a tiger or imagining that we are facing a tiger.
This is where our perceptions become so important. When we are able to keep our assessment of the “threat” in perspective, our bodies are not always mobilizing for danger. However as we begin to become passionate…or consumed…or obsessed (you know who you are) with a project or mission, we lose the ability to accurately assess the threat level were we not to hit the milestone, get the contract, send the email, or schedule the meeting. It’s easy to start to feel like tigers are chasing us from every direction, even if they are only imagined.
By maintaining a healthy perspective, we can put the email/meeting/project into proportion. While in the moment the set back feels like a pit of despair, in the long run it’s most likely just another hurdle in the long line of obstacles you will navigate to get to the finish line. What feels like a tiger up close is really just a hamster when you back up a little. It’s often hard to get perspective on our own. This is one of those areas where having outside input is critical. Ask someone who is invested in what you are doing to help you gain or maintain a healthy perspective. Chances are there is someone in your life who has been trying to speak this to you already – they might have said “it’s going to be ok” or “we can work on that tomorrow” or maybe “in the grand scheme of things…” – those are perspective adjusting statements. Those statements ground you in reality and focus the true threat level. When you start to feel like you’ve been running from tigers, it might be a good sign you need to find someone to help refocus on the hamsters in your life.
Check out the other posts in this series:
This article originally appeared on Plywood People.
Wendy Dickinson, Ph.D.