Using Distance to Get a New Perspective

Using Distance to Get a New Perspective
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Sometimes you have to get some distance from yourself. The point isn’t to remove yourself from everyone and everything. Rather, it’s to see yourself from a different perspective and detach from your apathetic and somewhat damaged self. You need fresh motivation and strength that sometimes only comes when you take a step back.

To understand this idea, think about something simple that you do every day. Think about when you stare at the sky, or at a landscape. You are looking at some point off in the distanceErgonomic workplace experts recommend taking your eyes off the computer screen every 15 to 20 minutes and then fixing your gaze on something above the monitor.

“I’m so isolated I can feel the distance between me and my suit.” 

-Fernando Pessoa-

This visual distance is a much-needed break for the eyes. Likewise, getting some distance from yourself can also improve your psychological and emotional well-being. But how can you distance yourself from your self? No matter where you go, your thoughts, your essence, and the weight of your existence are still there. It’s like carrying around heavy baggage, or constant noise keeping you from thinking clearly.

You don’t have to run away to Tibet or do a silent retreat to get a new perspective. There are other ways to get fresh perspectives and disconnect from yourself for a while.

Using distance to find yourself

Some people think that going on vacation is distancing themselves. They believe that problems lose their stamina and intensity after a week at a spa. That a few days on a white sandy beach will take care of everything. These periods of placid rest are great ways to escape and not think for a while. However, you can’t resolve anything by putting your life on pause.

Distancing yourself doesn’t mean running away. Nor does it mean putting miles between you and whatever is upsetting you. Not if you end up at the same place you were before.

Lao Tse said that there is no greater distance than the one that you put between your head and your heart. Between what your mind insists you believe and what your heart is asking you.

Something we often do is stubbornly stick it out in bad situations. Not only do these situations not enrich your life, but they actually snatch away your opportunity for happiness. A job, a relationship, family situations, etc.

You get stuck in these situations, attached to negative dynamics. You’ve put so much distance between yourself and your genuine needs that the most pressing thing isn’t a trip or an escape. You need to find yourself again.

fresh perspective

Get some perspective

You have to learn how to distance yourself in order to find yourself again. By distancing yourself, you can look back on life with a new perspective. Viktor Frankl, the father of logotherapy and survivor of several German concentration camps, explains this in his book The Doctor and the Soul.

Every once in a while you have to detach yourself from what’s around you. That way you can get back a sense of freedom and power. It makes it easier to remember what your purpose is.

Most of the time we are prisoners of our own thoughtsIt’s like a jail with no windows, a hostile environment that makes it hard to know what’s outside. That’s why it’s so important to get in touch with your emotions. Then you can find a way out of the jail. Then you will have enough motivation to make changes in your life.

Here are some steps you can take to make this happen. Follow these suggestions to distance yourself and find greater inner clarity.

Getting distance from yourself to make better decisions

One useful therapeutic strategy is to step back and become your own observer. To do that, climb a few rungs up the ladder and look at yourself from above. Observe yourself in a loving, warm, and humble way. It’s kind of like a game. You become a self-observer so you can reflect on where you are in life and what you’d like to do with yourself.

  • Climb up and look at yourself from above, from a distance. Evaluate whether or not you like what you see. Ask yourself if you’d like to see the same thing in a year.
  • Reflect on your beliefs and judgments without your usual defensivenessSet aside the certainties that are so well ingrained but that tend to limit you.
  • Take a closer look at your thought patterns. Install a negativity detector that will warn you if the focus of your life is characterized by unhappiness, desperation, bad moods, and apathy.

If you don’t like what you see and you only get a sense of negativity and unhappiness, it’s time to think about making some changes. That said, your purpose and goals in life should orchestrate these changes. Just like Viktor Frankl said, you have to find your own meaning and channel it towards your goal.

So, don’t hesitate to distance yourself from what’s around you every once in a while. It helps you get new perspectives, remember who you are, and what drives you.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.