Better Life Through Emotional Distance

I see most clearly the need for emotional distance at times when a lot is happening quickly and you are more likely to be overwhelmed by the situation than to actually steer it.
For example, when you break up with your partner or start a new job. In such times, simply pausing for a moment can show us the situation in a whole new perspective.

What emotional distance brings you

Often when we feel backed into a corner in everyday life, or don't know how something should go on, it's hard to react and when you do react, it often turns out to be a rather bad decision. At least that's how it often goes for me, because I'm much too cerebral in the situation. Right in the middle of it!

What helps me in such moments is to look at the situation from the outside. To put it more simply: you (you, me, whoever) need a certain distance from the situation.

If you stand too close to the Mona Lisa, for example, you will probably only recognize blurred and fuzzy colors. If you take a step back, however, you suddenly recognize a possibly smiling woman in front of a powerful landscape. And somehow everything suddenly makes more sense.

Furthermore, one should not forget that a certain distance is also important for growing and thriving. Every amateur gardener knows that plants should not be placed arbitrarily close to each other. Just as a certain distance must be maintained here, it is also important for us to grow properly.

How to gain emotional distance

- The first and, in my opinion, easiest way to put this into practice is to create actual distance from the situation by moving a physical distance. So, in the truest sense of the word, gain distance.

This is a very classic mechanism that we partly use unconsciously. Perhaps you have already grabbed your jacket in a quarrel in the heat of the moment and gone out the door, looking for the evening silence of a walk alone. And maybe you came down seemingly all by yourself and were suddenly able to look at the situation differently. You can use this method at any time and benefit enormously.

- The second option is to create a time gap. The good thing about this is that you don't need to do anything. Since the time runs anyway inevitably in a direction for us. It introduces an inevitable distance to the situation. A simple example of this would be a separation. Everyone knows it, with the partner it is over and you can not imagine a life without him. But with every day that passes, it becomes a little bit more bearable. And that without us having to do anything actively for it.

- The third way is to create a distance to the situation in his mind. This is a bit more difficult to explain, so I will try to explain it with examples.

Example 1: You're sitting in a car in a traffic jam. You are actually in a hurry. The driver next to you already starts to honk, because he is so upset. You see that the emergency vehicles are only now driving through the emergency lane and therefore you know that it will take quite a while until the traffic jam is cleared.

Now imagine you're sitting in an airplane by the window and you see below you, all those little cars and how peaceful they are down there on the road. All of a sudden, your own "problem" has shrunk as well, because when you look at the bigger picture, the problem, if any, is just a "little problem" and everything is not so bad anymore.

As you can see, the situation is much more pleasant with a little distance gained.

Example 2: Try to really put yourself in perspective for once, and I mean really:

  • Become aware of your greatness.
  • You are someone important to few people.
  • Most people in your city don't even know you.
  • In your country, probably not even 0.01%.
  • To the world, you are a nobody.

It may sound discouraging, but it's not meant to be! On the contrary, it should simply help you to take the seemingly big problems their horror. If we follow the thought a bit further that we live on a small planet, in a normal sized solar system, in one of billions of galaxies, I often wonder how a problem that already doesn't seem very big to me can then cause me so much stress.

How you the situation is insignificant when viewed from a distance.

So the next time you feel stuck, you can try using one of these techniques. Sometimes a simple deep inhale and exhale can give you the distance you need to see the whole picture again.

Distance thought game

This last section is no longer for personal education but is a thought process I went through while writing this post and deemed it worthy of sharing (Hear! Hear!).

While I was writing example 2 for the previous paragraph and I was thinking about how huge our universe is. If one believes the theory of the big bang, that all these galaxies, which are filled to bursting with stars and planets, lay together in an original point and we ourselves consist of atoms which formed in since emergence of our universe by planetary fusions always and always new elements, this means that also we have sprung from this one long ago point and perhaps differ in size, form and color from planets and stars, but we have the same history. An insanely beautiful thought in my opinion.
With such a large distance, such a holistic view, it is almost impossible for me to understand my problems as a such to perceive.

Imagine you fill a water bomb with colors. Now you smash the paint bomb with full force against a white canvas. The spectacle begins in the center of the screen (or where you hit it). From this center, color blobs spread out in all directions across the canvas. Even if it seems that all these blobs are separate, they all have the same origin. They just have a little more distance to each other now and can show their beauty better than in any color bomb ever.
Just as every blob of color reflects distance from impact, I understand it to mean that we are all nothing more than distance from mere existence, unfortunately we are socially conditioned to focus only on ourselves and so are predisposed to weigh our circumstances too heavily.

In the distance, on the other hand, there is a certain lightness.

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