I was working with a client recently who had a medical condition that was taking up a significant amount of the time and energy in his life. He found himself frequently reading medical articles related to the disorder as well as participating in an online chat group that focused on the disorder. He found this group difficult for him, since he encountered many individuals who were depressed and having difficulty managing this disorder as well. This tended to exacerbate his feelings of anxiety and depression.
He was experiencing what I call the zooming in effect. This is where an individual becomes so focused on an issue that anything else in their life takes a backseat to that. The result is an unbalanced view of their life and what they’re experiencing.
I like to think of it this way. Horror movie producers tend to shoot their film with lots of close-ups in enclosed places. There is a reason for this. These types of filmmaking techniques help to create feelings of anxiety and fear. The film makers would not get the same effect if they pan back and show a panoramic view of the same scene.
The same effect is true when you focus on things that take up most of your time and energy.
My conversation with my client centered on helping him to zoom out from this experience. This meant no longer visiting this online group as often. It also meant not necessarily jumping on his phone to check out the latest news on this disorder. Even more importantly though, it meant focusing on the things that were important to him such as his wife and children and other activities that make up who he is.
He had become so focused on that one issue that he forgot there were a number of other activities he engaged in that helped make his life more fulfilling.
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression. Look closely at what is taking up your focus in your day. Anything that you can do that helps you focus on other parts of your life particularly ones that bring you fulfillment or positive feelings can help you zoom out. This will help counteract the challenging events in your life and will create a sense of resiliency for you in the midst of difficult challenges.
Try this experiment. Picture in your mind a challenge you are currently facing as if you were filming it. Does whatever you’re thinking about appear very close up or very far away from you? Does it seem to be in color or black-and-white? Are you seeing it through your eyes or through someone else’s? Now try literally zooming back as if you were in a movie and the camera was panning back from that situation. Does it feel different when perhaps you are seeing the situation from a number of feet away? What if you were a block away? More than likely you will experience feelings that are not as intense. Just notice that and make note of how you might apply this technique the next time something distressing comes up in your mind.
The client I mentioned earlier is going to continue to experience difficulties due to the medical condition he has. This doesn’t mean though that it has to be the sum total of who he is. There are many other parts of his life that need to be nurtured and renewed in order to have a better long-term coping process to this ongoing disorder.
Zooming out is merely a focus on things that help you feel better in your life. When you’re able to see things from a new perspective frequently that will give you a new experience of the challenges you are currently facing.
Sometimes zooming out and getting in a little change of view is the best thing you can do.