One of the traditions my family did while I was growing up was working puzzles together around the holidays. We often would purchase a new Christmas puzzle from Hallmark in Kansas City each Black Friday and I fondly recall drinking hot chocolate and working on these puzzles around the dining room table. Admittedly, the ones we had done year after year were more enjoyable than some of the newer ones, but we always gave it a go and rarely, if ever, gave up prior to completion. Be it evenings or weekends, we would sit with Christmas music in the background working both together though separately on our new purchase for hours at a time.
That is until someone got up.
As it would be, when one of us got up, it wasn’t uncommon that upon returning we found our seat taken with the reason being that the seat thief wanted a different perspective, a new way of seeing the pieces, and perhaps more often than not, a break from not accomplishing much. Sometimes this was welcomed, sometimes it was not. Yet regardless, we continued working together, shifting the sections we worked on and allowing for the change.
Puzzles do this don’t they? They afford the luxury of pausing and finding new ways to see the pieces and the progress. In fact, even if left to do a puzzle alone, rarely would one sit in the same place through the entirety of their work. Looking at the hundreds of pieces from a multitude of angles refreshes the work and often leads to seeing a coveted piece right in front of us that previously seemed hidden. We don’t fight this, we welcome it and recognize the value in working puzzles in this manner.
And so it is with life.
I often tell folks in my office that it isn’t that I know the answer and am waiting for them to catch up, rather it is that I sit on a different side of the equation and when they share between us, I simply come at it from a different vantage point. I further illustrate this by placing an object of any sort between us and recognizing how if we were both to describe it, we both have different perspectives from which we both share and gain information. Rather than being in a posture of one up, I desire clients to see me alongside wrestling together with them towards the goals they desire. This in and of itself is often a new way of seeing.
But new perspectives can be scary. They can rattle us and make us feel uncertain, vulnerable, and foolish. It’s enjoyable to change chairs and be pleasantly surprised to find the puzzle piece you were looking for, but to get curious about long held ways of going through the world, ways that you’ve typically committed to out of necessity along your journey, well that is very different. Those practices have usually worked so well and been so helpful and so to question them can seem absurd.
Finding new ways to see is risky and brave, uncertain and courageous. It requires the ability to feel the tensions rather than avoid them. It invites a posture of security in one’s identity that stretches beyond the willingness to examine new perspectives and try out new thoughts. It encourages an open-handedness rather than unwillingness. Yet, as we keep at it, finding new ways to see can become less threatening and more exciting. We realize we can try these new ways out and still maintain our agency in deciding if we will commit to them or not. Slowly and surely finding new ways to see becomes a value for us as we begin to recognize it as the foundation for growth and change.
Maybe it’s a book or documentary. Maybe it’s difficult conversations. Maybe it’s a desire to become unstuck. Or maybe it’s simply sitting in a different chair and gaining a different perspective. As we head into a busy last six weeks of the year, I encourage you to give yourself permission to experiment and PLAY with finding new ways to see. Let it be fun and free, trusting you always have the final say on your commitment to new ways of seeing, doing, and being. And as you find new ways to see, may you become increasingly able to know and discern the person you want to be.
Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.
New ways to see can be scary, often with uncertainty in where to start. If you’d like to have someone walk the road with you, I’d love to hear from you!