November 9, 2016
Lens of Life
Throughout our lives, we develop a lens through which we view the world. A lens is not good or bad, it’s just a way in which we view the world. Our lenses change over time as we grow, learn, and experience new things. Our lens greatly affect how we approach recovery and therapy as well. If you have been told all of your life that tears are weak, allowing yourself to be sad will probably be difficult to tap into even in therapy. Today, I want to look at a few aspects of life that help develop our lens so that we can better understand how we approach life and recovery.
Cultural Lens: This lens is developed by growing up in the culture we were born into. Culture involves race, area where we were raised, and the perspective our families exposed us to. Your race involves a rich history of hundreds of people who existed before you. Their stories impact you even today! Our culture involves the customs and traditions we grew up with that have developed over time. The region we grew up in also affects our views today. If you grew up in the southern part of the US, your viewpoint will be greatly different from someone who grew up in the northeast!
Gender Lens: Are you male or female? Somewhere in between? Do you feel like you were born with the wrong gender assignment? Gender greatly impacts how we view our world. It does not only include how we are physically made up, but also includes the gender roles we were taught growing up. In your house, were you taught that boys are tough and girls are sensitive? Or maybe you grew up in a house where the women ran everything while the men sat to the side. These are stereotypical examples, but I want them to spark a thought process within you, looking at what you were taught about your gender identity.
Religious/Spirituality Lens: What did you family believe and live out regarding religion? Did your family activity participate in a religious institution? Or were they more spiritual without any institutional organization? What messages were you given about spirituality and religion? In addiction work, the 12-Step process is a spiritual process as much as a physical process. The messages you have been taught and how you have reacted to these messages will impact how you interact with the 12-Steps. Understanding your viewpoints are key to walking forward in your recovery journey.
Socio-Economic Lens: Whether you grew up with an abundance of money or your family struggled to make it paycheck to paycheck, your socio-economic status is a major part of how you view the world. You may see money as a necessary evil to get by in life. For others, it may be a gateway to a better life because you never experienced having it. Take a moment today to evaluate how you view money. How was this impacted by your socioeconomic status growing up? What beliefs do you hold today?
This is a brief overview to get you started thinking. Knowing our lens is key to understanding and knowing ourselves. What’s your lens through which you view the world? How does this affect how you see yourself and others? Are there other lenses you would add to this list? There may be things in your lens that could hold you back in your recovery journey, but there are also aspects that can be a great asset. Knowing where you come from and how this impacts your life today may give you great insight to yourself today.