I was going through some old photos a few weeks ago and came across some pictures of my daughter and me when we were traveling together last year. There were several taken with us in the same pose from varied distances. The first one was up close and personal. Of course, my initial reaction was “Oh my god, look at all of those wrinkles on my face!”. The other photos were of us from a distance and I was much happier looking at myself from that (less detailed) perspective. In the close up, I went directly to what I perceived to be my ‘flaws’, which I felt were magnified next to my daughter’s beautiful, smooth skin. (The fact that she is 33 years younger than I am didn’t seem to make a bit of difference in how I interpreted what I saw in me – ARGH!).
This got me wondering if perhaps we don’t do this with those people in our lives with whom we are up close and personal. I think it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the things that our spouses, children and friends do that bug us instead of taking a step back and looking at the whole person. Has there ever been a time when you were perceiving someone as not living up to what you wanted them to be and some sort of scary, negative event happened to them? Overnight, the little issues quickly recede into the background and you become much more aware of the good in them. (Maybe you even call upon whatever larger force in the universe you believe in to “Please, make them OK. I promise I won’t return to my nitpicky self anymore”).
And of course we also do this to the person we know most intimately – ourselves. The best way to start taking in the entire picture of someone or something, is to do it for yourself. Having compassion when you make mistakes, appreciation for the body that sustains you – in whatever form it shows up, and love for the good intentions you bring to each day are great practices that can help open up your eyes to these qualities in others.