How to Change Your Perspective

Jeremiah Gibson, LMFT, is a couples therapist at South Shore Family. He is significantly near-sighted, and lives the following metaphor every morning before he goes to work.

Did you buy your eclipse glasses yet? (If not, don't worry. There are plenty of eclipse glasses hacks.)

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Apparently, the retinas of your eyes can get burned due to the intensity ultraviolet light during an eclipse. Your center of vision would become blurred as a result. As this Time article describes, it's challenging to determine if your eyes actually are immediately damaged. For one thing, your retinas lack pain receptors, although the blinding light would be enough to look away. You also wouldn't notice permanent blurriness until 12 hours or so after the event. The surefire way of protecting your eyes (other than not eclipse-gaze) is to wear eclipse glasses.

Eclipse glasses have solar filters that block high quantities of ultraviolet and infrared rays. Reputable glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, and will produce a view of the Sun that is reasonably bright and surrounded by dark sky. They block out other forms of ambient light.

While I won't be viewing the solar eclipse (note that I'm writing this blog post at the beginning of the intense light of the eclipse), I'm no stranger to glasses. I'm near-sighted, and my prescription is -4.5 in both eyes. Without my glasses, the 12-point font words on my laptop that is sitting a foot away from me are blurry. The 24-point font words show up a bit more clearly.

Mornings are particularly challenging. I don't put on my glasses until after I shower; the rest of my senses are acutely aware in the meantime. I notice that I'm often more anxious because I don't know if I'm going to trip over something. Wearing glasses gives me a sense of security Nevertheless, if I want to see both the specific words I'm typing and the entirety of my computer screen, I need my glasses.

Couples therapy is a lot like optometry. Over time, our partners become blurry. We either become nearsighted and get really good at focusing on one specific behavior or irritation point at the expense of the larger context of our partner. Or we become farsighted--we look ahead and speculate that our partner is going to respond in a certain way, based on the story that we've developed about them. We overlook what our partner is doing in the here-and-now.

Couples therapy can help you gather a new, fresh perspective about your partner. It can give you 20/20 glasses so that you can clearly see your partner's strengths, intentions, and values. Couples therapy helps diminish farsightedness by creating ways to get out of your head and focus on present moment interactions.

If you'd like to gather a new perspective of your partner, give us a call at 617-750-0183. Our couples therapists can help you develop the communication and intimacy that you deeply desire in your relationship.

And between the time you make a call and your first appointment, I would encourage you to try three things:

  1. Write down one thing that you learn about your partner each day. Keep what you learn as objective as possible. More of "He eats blueberries in pairs." Less of "She's an asshole because she didn't fold the laundry the right way." Our perspective hardens when we view our partners as former versions of themselves.
  2. Write down a list of the assumptions that you have about your partner. After writing this list, tear the sheet of paper into as many pieces as possible. One of the most dangerous words in couples therapy is "I know". You don't know. Knowledge of your partner is often for your own security--so you can predict what to expect. Couples therapy invites you to grow together, which means that we'll be learning new things about ourselves and each other.
  3. Ask your partner what he/she would like to accomplish/learn about themselves today. Curiosity is a contributing ingredient to changing perspectives. When we ask our partners, we acknowledge that we're giving up our assumptions, and that we're generally interested in how they see the world. Don't judge what your partner might say, or force your partner to take your perspective.

A world with -4.50 vision (or worse) is awfully frightening, and requires a heightened sense of hypervigilance to get through. We can help correct your sight and perspective, so that you can see your partner (and yourself) through 20/20 vision and have the best relationship possible.