The Pendulum Effect


I recently tweeted “Learn to shift position or shift focus in order to see another perspective.  If you don’t, life may forcibly do it for you.”

What do I mean by shifting perspective?  Shifting perspective is the deliberate setting aside of how one thinks about a situation and choosing to adopt a new way to view it.

But why should I bother to deliberately and consciously shift perspective?  There are a number of reasons:

–        my current way of viewing the situation is no longer working for me and I feel trapped by my circumstances which may lead to a state of hopelessness;

 –        the desire to find a solution that best resolves the issue; we can only do this by going through a process of examining the issue from a range of perspectives to fully understand it and then eliminate those solutions that would not fully resolve it.

If I choose not to consciously shift perspective, how can life forcibly do it? Galileo in 1602 discovered a natural law that states that movement in one direction causes an equal movement in another direction.  The pendulum swings into action in our lives when we stray, consciously or unconsciously, from our intended path (i.e. the one that brings us peace and contentment) to knock us initially with equal momentum to the other side of the path leaving us feeing unbalanced.  The pendulum will continue to swing, sometimes wildly, seeking balance and this swinging between perspectives with its attendant feelings of confusion and uncertainty can continue for a considerable amount of time.

Life will provide us with the opportunities to change perspective and will continue to do so for as long as we are out of alignment with our true path.  This is invariably a painful process as we do not often recognise the opportunities for re-alignment and hence continue living life with the effects of the swinging pendulum.

So what can we to do if we feel trapped in our circumstances or feel buffeted continually by our life circumstances?  How can we create a space where we feel more centered and balanced in the midst of it all and respond in a more conscious, deliberate way?

I started my own search because, although I felt that my life contained periods of calm, there was a continual sense of waiting for the next storm which meant that, even in midst of the calm cycles, I could not fully relax into the experience of my life.  In the midst of storms, I had a myriad of excuses for why I made poor choices and why I was not happy or content including the popular dysfunctional family template.  But one day, after many swift bumps from the pendulum, I finally realised that although the people and situations varied from storm to storm, there was only one common denominator – me!  It became clear that I needed a shift in perspective and the search for how to do this led me to mindfulness.

Mindfulness helped me to become aware of how I habitually navigated these situations as they were arising; what thoughts were flickering through my mind so speedily that often I was not even aware of them, what emotions were bubbling just beneath the surface and what bodily responses preceded action.  With this awareness, I was more frequently able to choose a considered response rather find myself in the middle of a reaction and then wondering how I actually got there.

Mindfulness has not been not a silver bullet; it has not slain all demons in one fell swoop.  We don’t try it once and suddenly life is blooming every day.  Mindfulness is called a practice because, like a muscle, it needs to be worked at in order to grow, but it in this process of practice, that our experience of our lives becomes transformed.

The best way to learn how to practice mindfulness is to do an 8 weeks mindfulness course; week by week you will train the mind and body so that by the end of it, you will have developed your skill sufficiently to develop and maintain your own practice.

For more information on Mindfulness for Stress and Mindfulness for Health courses that I run, get in touch with me via the Contacts page here or email me on

© Siobhan Fanning 2018

4 thoughts on “The Pendulum Effect

  1. I often experience some anxiety during periods of calm & fear the next ‘storm’…great summary that helps explains my behaviour/feelings and how I could benefit from practising mindfulness. Thanks.


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