Sometimes it can be hard to keep things in perspective — when things are bad, it can feel like they’re going to remain bad forever. It’s also easy to ride the highs, thinking that they’ll never end. When things return to normal it can feel like you’ve crashed back to earth.

But keeping things in perspective is easier said than done! Even if you’ve suffered a similar setback in the past and recovered from it quickly, it can be tough to force your mind down the logical path of thinking about your past experiences. You’re focused on the present and the present isn’t looking good.

I find that analogies can be a pretty effective prompt for getting your mind back on a logical path. Whilst standing in the sea today (I’m currently in Thailand), I thought of a nice analogy for putting things in perspective:

With my eyes shut, the waves that hit me felt pretty big — it took a fair bit of effort to stand up and not get knocked off my feet. When I opened my eyes, however, I saw that the waves were pretty tiny — looking out into the distance, the water looked completely placid:

A photo of the sunset in Koh Phangan, taken from the beach

 

The present moment is the wave hitting me — immediate, tangible and easy to focus on completely. To put things into perspective you need to look beyond the wave to the whole ocean — the wave is actually tiny.

I’ve written before about how urges are like waves, always breaking eventually. This analogy will help remind me that the waves also aren’t as big as they seem.


Also published on Medium.