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Seeing Brightly

It is said that ancient mariners, when wanting to view one particular star more clearly, knew to look slightly off to the side of that star rather than directly at it. Counterintuitive perhaps, but just try it some dark night.

Turns out, this is because of the physical properties of the human eye.

Peripheral vision uses the outer edges of our retina (rod cells ) which require much less light than the cone cells of the center eye. When we try to focus directly on this star, the center of our retina contains few rod cells, and thus the star appears to vanish. As they say, "who knew?"

There are parallels. In life.

In therapy.

So often we focus intently on our problems, or on one in particular. We focus, ruminate, sometimes even approach obsession. It doesn't help. The problem is not made better. It does not go away. Yet we focus.

And focus. It is what we do. It becomes hard to look away; to view from any other perspective. We can become bound by - even defined by - this problem of ours.

Sometimes "it" is, in fact, Another. One who annoys; who does not understand; who will not fill a role as we hope or expect. Annoyances sometimes seem to grow rather than to disperse over time. The very living of life may become cloudy and less bright; less spontaneous, less joyful.

Then something causes us to "look aside." As is often the case in therapy, we come to explore rather more broadly, and notice aspects and possibilities not previously acknowledged. We experiment with techniques and "doing differently" as the slogan invites. We collect the data, review outcomes, readjust the experiments and collect new data. It may be a process of organized attempts, catalyzed by the therapeutic arena.

Perspective broadened can be, as the 5-year-old explains in absence of clear rationale, "magic." Even when counterintuitive. Much like viewing a star more clearly by the looking away.

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DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog are reflections on life and my experience as a licensed psychologist. In no way do these musings constitute professional advice; nor does any interation with me via this blog or wesite constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. If you feel the need for a professional relationship, please contact someone in your area who is able to devote the time necessary to understand the unique specifics of your pesonal situation and to offer counsel accordingly. I accept no liability for any content of this blog or website; nor any liability for any damage suffered or perceived from interaciton with the contents of this blog or website.

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