How imagining a different perspective takes one from self-conscious mode to observation mode—and why it works

Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

In high school and college, I was a horrible public speaker. And when I say horrible, I mean absolutely horrible. Prior to giving a speech or presentation, I knew I would be consumed by fear, self-consciousness, and an inability to talk normally. And in giving the speech, I was consumed by fear, self-consciousness, and an inability to talk normally. I was a mess — a mess of jangled, electric nerves. It was fear and self-loathing at the lectern.

And this is an understatement of the problem. The fear was so intense that my left arm would tremble occasionally. The self-consciousness…


The residents of Port Protection, Alaska, are living a fuller life than you.

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Life Below Zero, Port Protection is compelling television. Stunning, deep green forests. Beautiful, majestic mountains jutting from the ocean. Silvery-gray clouds. Wet snow. Barnacled boats. Orca whales surfacing. Salmon running. Wolves hunting. Bears staring. It all impacts the viewer. And then the weathered, resolute souls who reside there. Bodies broken to various degrees, but with spirits strong, these isolated Alaska residents live off the grid. Old souls, they are: Curly is a logger. Sam is a fisherman. Litzi lost her arm to cancer as a teenager, and…


From tangentbeta on www.pixabay.com

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The lines above are from a poem called “Ulysses,” by Lord Alfred Tennyson. Having not read Lord Tennyson before (even though I was an English major in college), I first came across these lines recently while watching the James Bond movie Skyfall. It comes at a…


How figurative language can change your perspective

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Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.” — Richard Kadrey

This Richard Kadrey quote is from his book Kill the Dead. It is a metaphor — a metaphor that moved me emotionally when I first read it. His words made me think of a painful, personal memory. That is what good metaphors can do. They touch you both intellectually and physically.

Metaphors can be deep. Most people understand the power of metaphor in poetry. William Butler Yeats, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou: these are among the masters…

Bart Squires

Grammar Geek. Copyeditor and Proofreader. Founder of Squires Editing Services, based in San Diego.

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