For us as humans the ability to give meaning to things is as much as curse as it is a blessing. In an ideal world we should only focus on things we feel passionate about. Or things that are of great meaning of value to us.
We ultimately decide what we give priority to. We give things meaning in order to place it neatly in the jigsaw puzzle of life. It helps us to navigate through our day to day existence. Through giving things meaning we judge how much importance to place upon them. For example when it comes to laws.
Their meaning comes to us in that, if broken there are consequences on freedom and liberty. Hence we place importance upon abiding by them. The same is true of relationships. We give them meaning because we get so much from them. Again because of this we see them as important.
This is all well and good and in general positive. Unfortunately we can give meaning and thus place too much importance on things that can be negative or of little real consequence. Social media, the pursuit of money or fame are to name just a few. Others could be regrets, our personal appearance or perceptions of ourselves to others.
If we allow them, these negative perspectives will crowd everything else out. We will lose sight of what is really important. Often these are things that we can do very little about. As we cannot control them it is almost easier for them to control us.
If not careful we will spiral out of control and lose all perspective. This in turn leads on to stress, depression, and anxiety. All of these things will negatively affect our mental well being.
The more meaning we give to these things, the easier it is to become slightly obsessed with them. It can be easily done. In the majority of cases, certainly when talking from a personal perspective this focus or obsession can be severe but mercifully temporary.
However, in some cases and with certain people this obsession can last for a significant amount of time. Once focused on, these things can be very difficult to ignore. This fact can be exacerbated by a range of factors including social isolation, pre-existing mental health conditions or indeed too much free time. They can be debilitating for some.
What can be done? If things move into the long term obsessive phase, the best course of action is seeking professional help. A number of things can be done for the less severe variety. Looking at the things in your life on a scale to establish what is most important, can really help.
Taking time to explore nature and the wonder of the environment around us is also beneficial. As is spending time doing things that you are passionate about or with people you cherish. Both can put things back into perspective. What is crucial, if you are able is to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Regaining perspective can be difficult but it is not impossible.
The key to this whole discussion is to really have a clear idea of what is most important to you. Focusing on these things and having them firmly established in our psyche, is really important.
Sometimes it is only when we don’t have these things that we appreciate their value. Here I am thinking of our health and so many facets of life pre-covid. Again this is always something to bear in our minds when we are struggling. Or when we lose perspective.
The bigger picture
Inevitably things will crop up to cause us to lose focus and possibly waste many hours agonising over. And inevitably all will be for naught. But as long as we don’t lose too much sight of the bigger picture and allow these other things to dominate, all should be ok.
It is an old adage but in this case quite important: ‘life is too short’ to focus on things of no consequence. If it helps, and it certainly does with me, just think of all the things that years ago seemed like the most important in the world.
How do you feel about them now? Very different I imagine. Some positive things, I am guessing have not changed. These things have stood the test of time as it were. So it is those that we should be focusing on, if we can.
Is it time to review what is most important in your life at the moment? Are you focusing too on something that you should not be?