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Missing The Forest For The Trees

Everyone is familiar with that phrase of not seeing the forest in its trees and the wisdom of staying away from the smaller aspects that impede our understanding of the “big picture.” It’s certainly wise advice. Ultimately, we’ve all become absorbed in the minutiae of a circumstance or relationship to the point where we forget the bigger goals that give significance to these specific details. However, on the other sideā€¦
What is the wisdom gained from observing”the “trees” even though the “forest” appears to be falling apart? The specific instance I’m referring to is one of my friends, whom we’ll call Moe, who has spent the bulk of his working life toward a particular purpose.
Moe approached me a few days ago. He wanted me to know, and not anyone other than our group of friends, about the fact that his former employer of repute had removed him from the task despite many years of dedication. In general, he is an exaggerated personality. However, he was quite calm and composed about this particular turn.

What Does It Mean If You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

“You cannot see the forest through it is a forest” can be described as an idiom of the English language that describes an instance where one is so focused on the particulars of a specific project that he is unable to comprehend or grasp the full picture. An idiom can be described as a widely used extended term different from the literal meaning of a phrase. Particular trees could so enthrall a person in a forest that they cease to care about being in it. It is generally not a major issue. However, in common usage, one cannot perceive the forest as the tree is so focused on the specifics of a particular issue and “trees” that he loses sight of the bigger picture and “the forest.”

I can’t see the forest because of the trees.

A term used to describe an individual who is too involved in the particulars of a situation to see the issue as a whole “The congressman was so caught up with the language of the bill that he could not discern the forest from the trees. He didn’t realize that his bill was not going to get through.”


The phrase is not a positive message to the individual or group. It was not originally intended as a positive message, and the meaning has been able to remain true to the meaning.

If you employ it, you’re suggesting that the person receiving your anger is confused, overwhelmed, confused by the information available, incapable of thinking clearly or failing to complete a task or make an informed decision.

It can also suggest the possibility of insults and make it appear that the insult could be due to the selfishness of people or a lack of knowledge on the subject.

Examples In A Sentence

Abe critiques the opposition for not being able to see the forest for the trees when it tries to emphasize the dangers faced by SDF members. [The Japan Times]

I don’t think I’m a wise man if I have to be too concentrated on the trees that I won’t be able to see the forest. [Wealth Daily]

The solution is relatively easy if you stop staring at the tree and look toward the trees instead. [The Hill]

However, a Qatar-owned and controlled cable news station is an actual tree in the forest that explodes without anyone around to listen. [Breitbart News]

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