Too close to the problem

Ever notice how easy it is to see the mistakes that others make, how easily it seems they could have avoided this or that? Success appears easier for other people too, but when it comes to your own life, you make mistakes that seem utterly unavoidable. I think we all can relate to how easy it seems to fix other people’s issues but not our own.

One obvious reason for this is that we are dealing with a more limited view of information with other people. Even if we are talking about your child or your spouse, you still don’t see the world from their point of view. You don’t have the same history, genetic disposition, biases, or thought processes. Your simplistic view of other’s problems obviously seem easier to solve than your own.

But I think there is something more to this. Something that could help you break through some barriers and find solutions to your own problems almost as easily as seeing them as someone else’s .

As I recently wrote,

“I think the greatest motivation for continuing my meditation practice is self knowledge. It may sound odd, but in the process of learning to meditate, I have learned a lot about myself. The amazing carry-over skill, is the ability to study myself, my thoughts and actions, as if I’m a curious 3rd-party observer. It’s hard to describe, but this is like some kind of superpower. To be aware and present enough to ask myself, “What are you doing? Why are you thinking that? How are you feeling and why?”- is becoming a habit. Not when meditating, but throughout a normal day. It’s like I’ve exercised a muscle, that now allows me to lift heavy burdens and see what’s underneath.”

When you view yourself from a curious 3rd party perspective, you gain a similar point of view as observing a friend. You are able to see the naive, simplified version of the issue. This can significantly lighten the burden of whatever issue you’re dealing with. Sometimes it even helps you discover an elegant solution.

Telling you to step outside of yourself and look at your problems from a 3rd person perspective is useless. Most people can’t. However, if you look at meditation as I do; an exercise for the brain, you’ll discover the ability gradually over time. Do the exercise, rep after rep, day after day, and you will get stronger. Weights in the gym, miles on the trails, or minutes of quieting the mind- they work in the same way.

Don’t go seeking the 3rd party perspective right away. Instead, follow your breath and don’t look for any results. Just follow the breath. Rep after rep after rep…

When this “perspective muscle” gets stronger, you’ll discover what I am describing.

If you want some tips on how to get started, check out my post on meditation. I hope it helps.


Developing this perspective not only helps you discover more about yourself and how to solve issues, it also seems to develop the skill of empathy. Which is pretty rad. But I’ll save that for another post.

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