What is a Lens Shift, Anyway?

purple frame shift photo

If you woke up tomorrow and everything around you was purple—the air, the trees, even people—you would not have an option to see and respond to things the way you did before. For me, this is what a “lens shift” or a “frame shift” in parenting is.  It is not just a conscious decision to take someone else’s perspective into account.  It’s life changing.  It is a shift in the entire way you see the world, and in this case, children.

When you shift the way you see children, you are simply no longer able to think in terms of consequences and obedience and children’s failings.  You can only see children as people who are communicating their feelings and needs and abilities. You find yourself no longer able to ask the question “how do I get him to stop?”, because it’s not relevant in a purple world.  It would be like asking how you can tell the child in the red shirt from the child in the blue shirt.  You can’t.  They’re both purple.  In place of those questions you used to ask,  you naturally and automatically ask yourself (and sometimes your children) “what’s going on ?” and move toward solutions based on what your children are telling you–verbally and non-verbally–about who they are and what’s going on for them and what they can manage.  And through that lens, you are transported to a place of greater connection, compassion, and collaboration–all of the ingredients that lead to a more peaceful and joyful life with your children.

It’s available to any of us.  We can do it at any time.  Start by practicing for 15 minutes.  Or for a portion of the day, perhaps the morning routine or bedtime or the transition from school to home.   Then try 30 minutes.  Then an hour.  Then an afternoon.  And when you are up to it, try to see if you can do it for a whole day.   When you try to do it for an hour and you fall back into your old familiar ways, brush yourself off, forgive yourself, remember you’re only human and this sort of change is a very big task, let it go, and try again later in the day or tomorrow.  Start building up again.  This is why we call it a “practice”–because it’s something you can develop with incremental practice.  At some point, probably somewhere between being able to do it for a whole day and being able to do it for a whole week, you will feel it.  Something will “click.”  Something palpable will happen.   You will get up in the morning, and open your eyes, and everything will be purple.  You won’t miss it. I promise.

We’ll be waiting for you.

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