July 9, 2019 Blog No Comments

The value of the big picture perspective has been highlighted a lot lately as I’ve dealt with a number of difficult issues. I find myself returning to it time and time again to find wisdom and a clear path through complex issues.

It came to me as I was providing supervision to clinicians dealing with very complicated issues and with my own clients. It hit home again when addressing what became a heated discussion with my husband And now, as I head off to do another consultation, I’m embracing it once again to understand what this community is needing.

I’ve found the “big picture perspective” so helpful, it’s been a go-to tool for me for decades. Here are some of the ways I find it to be invaluable.


I liken the big picture perspective to the view you get when you stop at a high scenic overlook to take in the scene below. You can see points of interest and all the surrounding areas that support it. Often there’s a marker that gives you the history of the area as well. All this detail helps you more clearly understand what’s in front of you.

When you look at a situation that is causing difficulty from a similar high vantage point, you will notice how it fits into a much larger sequence of events. You see the other social, personal and environmental variables that influenced the situation. It helps you see everything within its relevant context.

Nothing occurs in a vacuum – understand the bigger picture of a situation before taking action.


In my work and in my personal life, I always want to understand why things happen the way they do. The big picture shows the details of causal factors that impact behavior and create progressive incidents that may currently be problematic. Knowing a person had a history of abuse, neglect or loss can help make sense of present behavior. Knowing a community’s history helps provide background and context to what they need to change and address today.

This bigger perspective takes us out of the he said/she said, small minded sequence of petty interactions to allow us to better see the triggers and underlying factors that affect a situation. It gives you greater understanding,

The bigger perspective is like a 3D timeline that helps us understand the root cause of current situations


Let me take a leap and propose that when you understand causal factors of a situation, it has the potential of creating a more compassionate and accepting mind set. It doesn’t always work, but I find that it’s often the only thing that can creates the softening that’s needed for tolerance to prevail thus reducing social and personal judgement.

Acceptance is higher order thinking. With acceptance, we have a non-judgmental, more sympathetic frame of reference to understand situations that may be difficult to accept. This is important as we grapple with many challenging and conflicting personal and social situations. Looking at it from many angles is important to reduce stereotype and prejudice.

The higher order perspective embedded in every situation invites us to understand it first so we can then accept the reality.


Once you can accept a situation and understand the causal factors, you have what I like to call the wisdom perspective. This is the vantage point that includes all the variables to make sense of a current situation. It’s often complex, including many details, but this viewpoint helps distill the different elements into a framework that is clear and understandable.

What I appreciate about the wisdom that comes from the big picture is that it provides a calm vantage point that allows you to make better decisions. It takes you out of the conflict of personal opinion and puts you in a neutral place where you can think, speak and make decisions with more insight and good judgement.

There is wisdom in the clarity that comes from distilling all the variables into clear concepts.

When I want to understand my clients’ dilemmas, offer clinical feedback to supervisees, state an opinion on issues in my personal life or offer consultation to communities, I find that the big picture perspective guides me every time to be calmer, clearer and wiser. Try it for yourself and see if the higher vantage point offers you perspective, helps highlight underlying casual factors, makes you more understanding and accepting and ultimately fosters better decisions. I’d love to hear your experience.

If you’d like to learn how to find the bigger picture perspective in a personal or professional situation your dealing with, let me know. My Transformational Coaching and Therapy illuminates this through many techniques I’ve developed. Go to www.spectrumtransformation.com and use my Free Consultation link to reach me. I’d love to hear from you!

Photo credit – Machu Picchu by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

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Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com