It’s time we get together and do some big picture thinking. So much of our own guilt trips, pressures, and stress come from the moment to moment urgent things of life.
I think it comes with the territory. When we’re in the thick of motherhood (particularly when the kids are little) nearly every waking moment focuses on the present. Who needs what and where do they need it. We become tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. Priorities and realities can become skewed and in certain situations it seems we can’t see the forest for the trees.
This is where we need to be wise. We need to look ahead. We need to “zoom out” and think about our lives and situations from a larger perspective than the day to day grind.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
1. Big Picture Thinking.
It’s easy to get grouchy and irritable when we’re in a hard season. One reason is because nobody likes hard things. But another is because we tend to project the hard times over our entire lives. As though it’ll never change. Never get better. Never look up.
That simply isn’t the case. Big picture thinking says that what’s happening now (endless diaper changes, meltdowns, and night feedings) will morph into something else later. It’s one square of a larger quilt. A necessary and beautiful square, but not the end product.
2. Urgent isn’t always important.
Some entrepreneur expert (whose name I cannot remember) said when faced with the important vs. the urgent, do the important. I’ve started doing that with my work and have had a major increase in productivity. Why? Because the “urgent” will always get done. If in fact it is urgent. The important, however, will get pushed around to make room for the urgent.
Urgent would be folding a stack of clothes. Important might be reading with your children. Of course the clothes need to be folded, and because of that they will get folded. However, you can go days without spending quality time with your child because you’re so busy trying to do something “urgent.”
3. Learn a lesson from nature.
One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself is to embrace your season of life. In nature there’s winter, spring, summer, and fall. A tree with no leaves is not a failure in the winter. An tree with no flowers is not a failure in fall. When you feel at the complete end of your rope, know that it is truly only one season in your life.
There are special considerations for every season, and each one will have its ups and downs. Advantages and disadvantages. But just because you feel unproductive right now doesn’t mean your life will be unproductive. Just because you don’t feel full of fruit right now doesn’t mean you won’t produce a large harvest next year.
4. It cuts the guilt.
Guilt can be a useful emotion when it convicts us of our own wrongdoing and encourages us to change for the better. False guilt, on the other hand, is a crippling liar. You feel guilty you don’t buy all organic vegetables even though you’d literally have to charge it to your credit card to do so. False guilt is this vague sense that you are doing something very wrong though you can’t quite put your finger on it. And it’s awful.
Zooming out and changing your current view to big picture thinking is a great way to help stop the false guilt. You can feel guilty for “depriving” your children of things now, but you know it’s better in the long run. You feel guilty taking some time to yourself (like a mommy vacay), but know that without that time you’re actually not the type of mother you want to be.
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5. It helps build character.
Our children’s and our own. Someone once told me that character can be summed up by two questions.
- What decision would you make if no one was looking or would ever find out?
- Can you make the right decision even if it’s the hardest one?
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When we zoom out, look at the big picture of our goals or vision for our homes, it’s easier to make decisions in the present. It’s easier to make tough decisions regarding our kids and to stop taking short cuts that we hate but find easy in the moment. “Zooming out” helps take the pressure off of us because we are thinking long term. We can see the hard seasons as an opportunity to grow our character and our resistance. Zooming out will give you peace that’s eluded you and strength to keep going when times are tough.