By Lynn M. Acquafondata
Someone once told me I have eagle power and handed me an envelope with an article to explain.
I didn’t know anything about animal totems in those days and eagle energy sounded pretty intense, but I received his words as a great and mysterious gift. It came on the last day of my church internship as I reached the home stretch of my journey to ordained ministry. The gift and the image stirred years of thinking about life from a different perspective.
What if each of us tried to see the world from another perspective on a regular basis, even if that view felt baffling at first? How would you view the world from the eye of a raptor soaring high above the daily scenes of life, observing closely, then swooping to the ground at just right moment before returning to the heights?
Or how might your life shift if you could see the world from the nose of a rat, scurrying around behind the scenes with full awareness of where your goal lies at each moment, able to squeeze through tight spaces and move quickly to achieve your ends?
What could you learn from observing the world as though you were an oak tree standing tall in one place for a long, long time, rooted for centuries, intertwining your roots with those around you?
In my work as a consultant and as a therapist, I don’t typically use animal metaphors, but I do try to give the people for I whom I work the gift of a new perspective. I try to provide possible new ways to look at self and our interactions with others. Sometimes metaphors help to gain glimpses of fresh understanding.
Sometimes metaphors help us to glimpse what life is like from another person’s perspective. What if each one of us took the time to listen carefully to other people and tried to imagine life and relationships from the experiences of those who are different from ourselves? What might we learn about ourselves?
What would it be like to view the world from the position of someone of a different race or culture from yourself, or combination of races and cultures? What might you learn by contemplating the world from the outlook of someone of another age range, or gender, or sexual orientation? What could you learn about yourself and the way you engage the world by non-judgmentally exploring the worldview of a person with opposing political beliefs?
If you could hand yourself or someone you love an envelope with an image and perspective to explore, what might you choose? What challenges and insights might the image bring?
In the coming weeks I will share a set of images, metaphors and scenes from life to illuminate patterns of human interaction that offer possibilities for personal growth and relational healing. The concepts have their roots in Bowen family systems, but move beyond in ways that are much needed in today’s world. Bowen family systems is a theory that looks at the family as a unit and gives a framework for understanding emotions and behaviors through relational dynamics rather than as completely individual choices.
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Edited by Johanna Bond