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Gratitude

Did you know that just by searching for positive things to be grateful for, you are activating your brain to produce more feel-good hormones?  According to research, just the process alone begins to change the brain.

Wow – that’s pretty amazing.

If we can actually feel better by finding those blessings and things to be grateful for, then why aren’t we doing it?

Instead, we hover incessantly over all the things that have gone wrong or are going wrong.

As I read stories of people who have gone through tough times but still found things to be thankful for, I am reminded of all the blessings I have received.

Yes, there have been tragedies; the loss of my husband and a son, both to cancer; the loss of our newly built dream home and retirement pension, and the near loss of a daughter to breast cancer. The list goes on – just as yours does.

We have all suffered unspeakable tragedies in one way or another and people wonder how we will survive, go on, rebuild, find joy again.

As a therapist and former teacher and facilitator and now a life coach, I teach and encourage people to challenge negative thinking and replace it with positive affirmations.

We can approach our problems by focusing on options or we can remain angry at what is happening to us.

We can reframe events and see our circumstances through a different prism of understanding and insight.

When we do, we go beyond all the negatives and see positive elements as well.

Again, as research has indicated, it isn’t events or people that make us angry, anxious, depressed, etc.  It is how we choose to respond to life.

This is not a Pollyanna attitude.  Rather it is choosing to see beyond the immediate; seeking those nuggets of hope and grace and yes, blessings, in the midst of whatever we are facing.

Give it a try

Start a gratitude journal and begin recording the things you are thankful for every day.  It might feel weird at first and you might have to struggle, but after a little while, you will begin to notice these blessings throughout the day.

Purposefully looking for blessings gradually changes the paradigm you are living under. It expands your view – your frame of reference.

You no longer see the telescopic dot of misery, but other aspects of good are brought into your vision. When that happens, you will experience a difference in your mood, your attitude, your thinking, and your life will take on a new color.

We are choosing all the time.

We choose our emotional responses. We choose what we want to focus our attention on.  We can focus on constructive planning and decision making or we can focus on our insecurities and doubts. We can choose to worry or we can choose to put our energy into problem-solving.  We can spend our free time on trivial things or we can build more positive relationships with others. Connecting is so important. We can choose to see our container of life as half empty or as half full and filling up. We can choose to be optimistic instead of pessimistic.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Unplug

Unplug and just “be” –  be in the moment.  Take  5-10 minutes and disconnect from life as usual. Connect instead with your self, God, and your surroundings.

 

From the time we get up until the time we go to bed we are running.  Even when it is time to relax, our thoughts and minds are bombarded with all the things we should have done, should be doing or must do.

We try to block out all the internal and external noise by spending time on media sites, posting, texting or by zoning out with TV or video games. We go to bed exhausted and get up with little rest.

 

Unplug and take a timeout

When our kids were young and they got too exuberant in their play or started fighting, we would put them in a time out for 5 minutes until they could calm down.

As adults, we are no different.  We keep up a demanding, relentless pace until we are so stressed we can no longer function. And when we try to relax, our thoughts continue to keep us stressed. Before that point is reached, quick short timeouts can calm both our minds and our bodies.

Take 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day. With all the things that need to get done, this may seem like a ludicrous suggestion. But in the long run, you will have more energy and be able to accomplish so much more.

 

It may be the most important 5-10 minutes of your day.

 

Maximize those minutes

Choose times when it isn’t disruptive to your job or others and walk away from what you are doing. This isn’t a time to socialize.  You want to be alone.  Go outdoors if possible or find a quiet, restful spot to sit. Because we are constantly in a “doing” mode, it may take a while to become comfortable just “being”. But it will soon become normal and natural.

 

Now focus on your breathing. Are your breaths short and shallow?  Take deep, calm even breaths that come from your abdominal area. Pay attention to each breath – in and out – slow and even. Notice that as you slow your breathing, your whole body begins to relax.

As you develop the skill of calmly breathing in and out, you will begin to relax wherever you are, whether at your workstation, waiting in line, or driving in traffic.

 

Our minds are programmed to be doing something: finding solutions, solving problems, etc. So, at first, your mind will wander to all the things you want to accomplish on your “to do” list.  Simply acknowledge whatever thoughts come into your mind and then re-focus again on your breathing. Don’t try to force thoughts away.

 

If your thoughts are persistent, imagine a beautiful box next to you.  “See” yourself putting all the things that require your attention into that box.  Put the lid on and tell yourself you will get to each one of them. Then re-direct your attention to your breathing.

 

When your breathing is even and your body relaxed, turn your attention to your surroundings. If you are outside, notice the sky, the clouds, birds, the warmth or chill of the day.  What do you see and how does it make you feel?

 

 

What do you smell: the scent of flowers or freshly mown grass or simply fresh air.  What colors are there?   Are there birds flitting about.  Become aware of their songs and actions.

Notice little things you would typically walk by, such as a bug crawling on a plant, a spider’s web, the movement of tree leaves.

 

 

If you are walking, notice the texture of the path, the shapes of bushes and tangles of roots and scent of pine needles.

 

Soon you will be amazed at how much you notice for the first time and how refreshed you feel.

 

This is so simple, yet we resist the urge to sit still and be in the moment.

We are so busy rushing around.

 

This is mindfulness – being in the moment – not the past – not the future – but right here and now in the present moment.

 

When you are in the here and now, your mind is not regurgitating all the problems or things that have gone wrong, what you should do, haven’t done, or are incapable of doing, feeling helpless, stressed, and frantic or whatever.

 

Mindfulness quiets the mind – giving it a rest.  It takes you away from obsessive rumination of the past and anxiety about the future.

 

And it just takes 10-15 minutes.  It is a mini-vacation that you can take during the noon hour or at the end of the day or as you get up from your desk and walk around for a few minutes.

 

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Seeds of Resilency

As I rest on my deck at the end of a hot and busy day, I enjoy the peace and quiet surrounded by the many different blooming plants I have.  They create an environment of contentment as well as beauty.  Hummingbirds flit in and out adding to the ambiance.

The flowers in my pots are well taken care of: good dirt to grow in, watered and fed on a regular basis.

Not all plants enjoy such care. Some struggle through constantly invading weeds, others endure long stretches of droughts. And still, others find themselves on rocks trying to find someplace to sink their roots.

On trips to nearby beaches, there are many craggy outcrops of rock. I am amazed at the number of trees that seem to be growing out of solid rock.  On closer inspection, however, you see cracks that contain enough dirt or nutrients to allow them to grow. They have a beauty all their own.

What drives a seedling to push deep into what appears to be nonexistent soil in order to grow, survive and even thrive?

If seeds can be persistent and resilient, following some internal code, why can’t we?

We will struggle with overwhelming odds; but unlike the seed who continues to push against incredible conditions, we tend to give up. Yet there is fertile soil all around us to grow and develop.  Even when tragedies hit and it seems our world is turned upside down, the “soil” of opportunity and favorable conditions can be found.

Our job in life is to look for and find that “soil” of opportunity to use, grow and bloom

Obstacles may seem like an impenetrable solid rock – but there are cracks to put our roots.  Losses may seem like the devastated remains of a tornado that has blasted through the landscape of our lives, but it has only stirred the soil.

Doubts and fears may loom as huge giant monsters, but a pinprick of hope and determination will deflate them in a second.

Plant your roots.  Refuse to give up, and tell yourself, Yes I can. If trees and cacti and the scrub brush of deserts not only can grow but survive and thrive, so can we. If seeds find those tiny cracks in impossible situations, so can we. There is no dessert that is too rocky and dry; there is no weed patch that we can’t rise above. We just have to look and search for where to put our roots down.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

Fear Monsters

Nothing creates fear monsters faster than when we constantly go over and over a problem focusing only on the anxiety it creates to the exclusion of looking for potential solutions. Fear is healthy and keeps us safe.  But when it goes beyond its intended purpose, it soon takes over our lives.

What are you saying to yourself about your situation?

While sharing with friends can release some of the tension we feel and can help us gain a new perspective, it is what we say to ourselves that is critical.

We are often unaware of that continual stream of conversation we have with ourselves 24-7.  If that self-talk remains focused only on the fear and anxiety we feel, we will not find the solutions we need.

Our brains respond to the thoughts that stream through our consciousness. If you constantly repeat to yourself how bad things are, how little control you have, how helpless you are, how others are so much better off than you, etc. etc. etc. you will begin to respond accordingly. If you think there is no use in trying, you will have little creative energy to move forward.

Our thinking can produce a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Negative beliefs soon become a reality. We can perpetuate the problem or we can find ways to resolve it. We can give up or we can generate determination and an “I can do it” attitude and mindset.

Tell yourself, no matter how hard it is, giving up is not an option. Focus on the things you can do, not what you can’t do.

Problems can become like a mirror – we stand in front of them and all we see is the problem.  We polish it; look at it continually and our problems become our frame of reference.

Put up a new mirror that reflects possibilities and options.  Let go of what is not working, even if it worked at one time.

Use downturns and failures and defeats as an opportunity to learn and grow.  It can be the spark of creativity and ingenuity.

Successful people have learned how to use their mistakes and failures to their advantage.  It is how you choose to frame any situation that is important.

Don’t let a bruised ego keep you from trying again.  Everyone needs to learn humility.  We will make mistakes. Use them as opportunities to grow into the best “you” possible. I’m not talking about an “I am better than you” attitude. We can use tough times to define what is truly important and begin implementing those values.

Arrogance has no place in genuine personal development because to grow we need to acknowledge that we are not perfect. We need the help of others and need to reach out and help others in turn.  Just as children learning to walk will fall down many times, adults will also fall down. As we go through life we will fall many times.  What’s important is that we keep picking ourselves up and telling ourselves we can do it. We get stronger each time we do.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

Are you Happy? If not, why not?

On your list of wants and needs, where do you place happiness?

We think of all the things we want to have or think we must have in order to be happy.  But do they really make us happy in the long term?

In fact, “things” in general typically leave us wanting, disappointed and dissatisfied after a short period of time.

Being happy is a choice we make on how we want to live.

As we go through life, we form beliefs and worldviews and act upon them. In the process, we can look for the positives or remain focused on what went wrong, what didn’t work out, how bad the world is or how mean people are. We choose our focus and our responses.

Research on the body-brain connection reveals the impact thoughts can have on our overall health.  Our thoughts create a chain reaction throughout the mind and body. What we think, believe and say to ourselves has profound physical consequences. If we are hopeful no matter what happens, our body responds in kind. If we allow hopelessness to become the norm, it too has a profound reaction to our health.

Consider your response when you experience an unexpected kindness. One minute you may be feeling depressed and discouraged. Then someone tells you how much you are appreciated and suddenly you experience a lift of spirit and energy. It happens in a flash. What happened?

 

Do we choose happiness or is it a result of external events? And if we have so much power and control over our happiness, then why are we so unhappy?

 

If how I respond to life can have such a profound influence, perhaps it is a question each of us needs to explore. Am I happy? If not, why not? What keeps me from being happy? Were there times when I was happy? Was I happy because of work I was enjoying, the people I was around or was it just feeling good about who I am? What would it take for me to maximize my contentment, excitement, and satisfaction on an ongoing basis no matter what happens?

Dan Ariely, Prof of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational – The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions”, cites many experiments and studies that show how the expectations we hold about life influence how we experience what is happening. Two people experiencing the same event may experience something totally different based on their expectations rather than what is actually happening.

If our expectations can influence and “shape” our responses predicting the outcome, then holding the expectation that we can be happy regardless of what happens, will have a huge influence on every aspect of our life: physical, mental, spiritual and psychological. When we make a deliberate decision to be happy, it becomes a mindset, an expectation, a belief that we live out in any situation.

It’s not “things” or what we thought we had to have or must have that is the basis for happiness.  It is what we tell ourselves we must have in order to be happy.

We choose our expectations and our attitudes. Changing our mindsets can impact every aspect of our being: physical, mental, spiritual and psychological. We can choose to be happy or we can choose to be a victim of whatever is happening at the moment. We can take whatever we are given and create something positive out of it.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

The Last of Human Freedoms

We just celebrated Independence Day – a day bought and paid for by the lives of people who loved freedom and fought and died for it.

We get together with family and friends and enjoy the fireworks displays that were a culmination of the day’s festivities.

But what does freedom mean to you?

“What alone remains is ‘the last of human freedoms’ – the ability to ‘choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” Victor Frankl

 

Victor Frankl was a psychiatrist and Jew who lived during the Nazi regime in Germany. He along with his entire family was sent to Nazi concentration camps.  He was taken to Auschwitz, one of the most dreaded of these camps.  Except for his sister and himself, his entire family perished. Every possession was taken from them, and the Jews who weren’t shot or sent to the gas chamber endured years of unspeakable horror.

 

Yet, in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Frankl writes:

 

“In spite of all the enforced physical and mental primitives of the life in a concentration camp, it was possible for spiritual life to deepen…”

 

Spiritual life? How could your spiritual life be deepened in such a horrible place?

 

As a psychiatrist, physician and acclaimed author, he was now a student in the cruelest of life’s classrooms struggling to survive physically, mentally and spiritually. But it was here, in some of the most horrible of conditions, that he discovered men could be compassionate to others who were suffering and dying and that apathy “… could be overcome, irritability suppressed.  Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physic stress.”

 

This World War II scenario happened a long time ago. What has this got to do with me today? Why should any of this be relevant in today’s world?

 

Because when I am whining about the problems I face today, it reminds me of my freedom to choose my attitudes, my determination, my responses to life.  I live in a country where I am free to work and earn a living.  In the midst of unimaginable conditions, Frankl evidenced the indomitable human spirit.   He discovered that prisoners faced with death and unexpected daily torture could focus their minds on things that were good. They could even see the beauty of God’s earth around them.  They could “rise above any situation even if only for a few seconds” when they found and expressed humor. He and another prisoner daily invented at least one amusing story to share with each other.

 

We make choices every minute of the day. In fact, we cannot not choose.  When we become aware of how simple it is to make choices that are positive, motivating, hope infused, it will fuel our creativity, our inspiration and the ability to find solutions to any problems that seem petty in comparison.

If you have never read Frankl’s book, I highly recommend it.  It is both sobering and inspirational.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

Let Go – Take Control

Years ago, when I was helping design and write a ten week class on living with chronic illness for a large HMO, I designed the following handout.  I share it with you today.

 

LETTING GO – TAKING CONTROL

 

If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death.  Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.”   Victor Frankl

 

To experience freedom and create meaning in our lives, we must “let go” of the past while taking “control” of the present and future.

 

Letting go means

  • Removing my masks – becoming honest with myself and others
  • I can laugh – I can cry – I can feel my pain – and it’s okay
  • Transcending my fears: facing death, disability, hardships, disappointments
  • Grieving my losses
  • Asking for and receiving help
  • Acceptance of those things I cannot change

 

Taking control means

  • Discovering the real, genuine, authentic me
  • Spending time discovering the real me
  • Focusing on what I can do – not what I can’t do
  • Choosing hope over despair – the positive versus the negative
  • Soaring like an eagle
  • Believing I have choices and that I am making those choices every day
  • Enjoying each step forward – there is no step too small or too large
  • Looking for and finding opportunities within every situation

 

Problems, disappointment, life situations CANNOT keep you from

  • Exploring new options
  • Setting new priorities and goals
  • Living life to the fullest
  • Developing a better quality of life

 

Problems, tragedies, and losses CAN help you

  • Discover great, hidden strengths and determination
  • Create new and exciting meaning for our life
  • Transform “who you were” into “who you are becoming”
  • Develop awareness and appreciation for you and your world

 

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

Take Advantage of the Moment

Years ago, I struggled with a degenerative disk in my lower back. We had just finished building our new home and were in the process of unpacking boxes and putting things away.

Walking around was painful and sitting was never my forte. But now surrounded by work I was anxious to do, I was frustrated.  What could I do while I waited for my surgery date?

“I know what I can’t do but what can I do?

I didn’t just want to sit there doing nothing and I wasn’t able to unpack boxes and put things away.

 

Then it occurred to me.  I had a couple of boxes of prestigious cooking magazines I had wanted to go through and remove articles and recipes I wanted to keep but never had the time. Now I had the time.  In fact, this was “the” perfect time.  It not only kept my mind occupied with something useful and productive but completed a chore I had wanted to do but may never have gotten around to. I still have those selected articles and recipes and continue to use them.

Learning from our past

As I recover from a fall that wrenched my back last week, I thought of that earlier time. How could I use this time productively while giving my back time to rest and recover? I realized this was a perfect opportunity to look through the articles and blogs on writing I had saved to review. I could think about how it applies to me and my writing.

 

When you  are busy every day there is little time to think constructively about future plans and actions

 

God’s grace and generosity of spirit give us a capacity to tolerate and accommodate. It can ease our distress or pain. He designed us with incredible minds to take what we are handed at any moment in time and say, okay, what do I do with this.  How do I work with this?

 

How can I change my focus from what I can’t do to what I can?

 

This isn’t meeting expectations we or others put on us.  It is taking what we have and working with it “in” the moment – God’s moment for us.

Taking the Best and Applying it to our Situation

So, whatever situation you find yourself, be comfortable in that place.  Ask yourself, what is the most beneficial use of this time?  To empty my mind of my “to do” list; rest, or read? Perhaps this is an opportunity to think about future projects and do some planning while free from activities?

 

Use your time productively – not as another “to do” thing, but as an “in the moment” focus where you are comfortable and relaxed

 

Being productive doesn’t mean actively completing some project.  It is using the moment to its best advantage – it can mean doing absolutely nothing as you still the mind from relentless rumination and stress and simply be contented and calm. Or it can be a time of thoughtful planning and consideration of options moving forward.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Take Charge

Acceptance means we let go and stop struggling so we can make new choices. We consciously acknowledge the situations we find ourselves.

Acceptance is where we stop fighting the reality that my spouse has died, my marriage is over, my teen is hooked on drugs, my finances are in the tank and the outcome of my medical tests was not what I wanted to hear. Nothing I do seems to work out.  The list goes on and on.

Acceptance is not dismissing our loss, pain, anger or frustration.  It just means we stop fighting or resisting what has happened, and recognize the reality of our circumstances.

Your world may have been brought to an abrupt halt. It is often a painful place full of unanswered questions, confusion, and doubts.  It isn’t denying how we feel but purposefully moving through the pain. In coming to terms with whatever has happened, we find new ways to take charge of our lives.

 

Acceptance says I don’t have to have all the answers or need to pretend that I do.

 

Acceptance is not the end.  It is the beginning.  It is where we take from the ashes of our tragedies and losses and begin the process of creating something new.  Letting go does not diminish what we had. It doesn’t mean we are giving up.  It just frees us to take the next step.

 

Situations influence the choices we make but does not automatically dictate those choices.

Taking Charge vs Controlling

When we are controlling, we are closed to new information.  Old rigid ways of doing things dictate what we can and cannot do.  When we take charge, we are open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.  We can examine, evaluate and choose the best way.

If you were to clench your hand into a fist you would soon find it exhausting. Ask yourself: With my fist clenched, can I pick anything up or take something from someone? The longer you hold a fist the harder you have to work to keep it closed.

Now relax and open your hand – palm up.   With an open hand, you can accept things, pick things up, and use them in some way.

When our minds are closed in a “fist” of control, we are unable to see alternatives or consider other ways of doing things.  We cannot see another’s position or opinion that might differ from ours. We become closed and rigid and controlling.

 

Choices

You are making choices every minute of the day.  In fact, you “cannot” not make choices.  Not making a choice is still a choice. Acceptance simply allows you to make better, more informed choices. Sometimes options are limited. But we can brainstorm as many as possible.

Remember: How you choose to work with a problem can either undermine the desired outcome or bring it about.

 

Choices require hard work and a willingness to try more than once. Rather than giving up, you change directions or consider other options.

 

When faced with unwanted change or loss, we are facing the unknown and struggle to fit this new reality into our norm.  We have never been here before and there is no ready roadmap.  We are charting a new course as we go along.

We may feel anger or righteous indignation that makes acceptance difficult.  There may be a deep and unspoken fear that if I let go I will end up with nothing. But hanging on does not serve you.

 

Acceptance

Acceptance is not giving up.  It is not resignation. It is opening your hand and allowing new information to meld with the old.  Acceptance means I do not have to stay in this uncomfortable spot, spinning round and round in my head the disaster that has just happened.  Yes, it takes time to grieve my loss.  But I also look for ways to heal and recover.

 

Acceptance tells me

I am okay no matter what has happened – I can begin again.

I can learn and gain from any experience

 

I don’t need to have all the answers and I don’t need to pretend I do.  I can ask for help when I need it.  Acceptance tells me I am okay no matter what has happened.  I don’t have to remain in a blame game.  I accept my vulnerability as I reach out to God and others.

 

Acceptance means I no longer have to run from

my fears, anxieties, and concerns –

I can face them directly and honestly.

 

New choices give us freedom; freedom to align our wants with our beliefs and values.  It serves as an opportunity to grow and reflect on where I want to go.

How do you meet your tragedies?  Can you allow yourself time to grieve while still looking for new ways to move forward?  What can I take away from this situation that will serve me in the future?

Marlene Anderson

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

 

How do you Frame your life

 

When I took some of my son’s art in to be framed, I was surprised at what a huge difference the frame made.  Even with the black and white pictures, each demanded a border that would showcase that particular picture, highlighting the important elements.

The wrong frame would do the opposite.  When the right frame was put together with the picture, it was one you wanted to hang on your wall to look at over and over again.

 

How we frame the events in our lives can also make a huge difference in the outcome.  We can take that slice of life that challenges us and put a frame of strength, perseverance, and problem-solving around it. Situations that seem impossible can be turned into a major centerpiece of triumph on the wall of our lives.

 

Wide Angle vs Telephoto Lens

 

When we use the telephoto lens of our camera, we want to highlight one aspect of the scene before us. Looking through the lens, everything is excluded except the focused subject. Taken out of the context of the surrounding landscape, our attention is directed only to the object of our focal point.

 

We tend to do this in real life also, focusing on small segments of what is happening instead of seeing the whole picture.  We need both. We need the telephoto to properly identify the problems we are facing as well as the wide angle to give us all the background information. If we simply concentrate on one part of a problem we tend to have a knee-jerk response without considering the context in which it is occurring.

 

In order to evaluate more accurately, we need to broaden our field of vision.

 

In troubled relationships, for example, our spouses and teens are seen as uncooperative and argumentative.  Until we include the larger perspective of attitudes, mindsets, unrealistic expectations, past experiences and a willingness to work together, we will remain stuck in a fighting and combative pattern.

 

We develop reactive habits that lock us into a pattern of responses that work against us. Once a habit of arguing is established, a fight will be triggered no matter what the circumstances or what is said. It becomes so rigid that anything positive stays out of your field of vision.  You no longer see the bigger picture that involves targeting the problem specifically as well as expanding the options available to us.

 

Reframing looks beyond the problem to see alternatives we didn’t know were there.  We see what we couldn’t see at first glance opening up different possibilities.

 

Reframing takes what life hands us and gives us a new way to look at it. Our initial reaction can be tempered by different ways of looking at a problem, whether it is our relationships, major health problems, or the nitty-gritty of everyday life. When we are able to expand our interpretation and work towards a positive outcome, we can experience that glimmer of humor that allows us to laugh at our mishaps, mistakes, and humanness!

 

Reframing allows us to grow and prosper

regardless of circumstances.

 

Reframing takes any traumatic or challenging situation and looks for constructive solutions.  Expanding our frame of reference enables us to see God working in the background. We are able to develop strength of character and define what is truly important in life. Our resilience grows along with the belief that we can chart a better course. We can put in place habits that help us think through problems vs simply reacting to them. It is choosing to shape our outcome instead of just allowing events to dictate our destiny.

 

Reframing means I choose not to be a victim.

It means I am not a hostage to my situation or pain.

 

We will have doubts and anxieties.  However, we don’t allow them to keep us from finding ways to work through any difficult situation.

Reframing allows us to grow and prosper regardless of the obstacles. Whatever the problem, we are able to see it not as a permanent roadblock, but something we can work with to bring about our goals.

Whether the situation that confronts you is a marriage falling apart, teens in trouble, or a diagnosis of chronic illness, you can always expand your field of vision to find the right answers.  Uncertainty might leave us scared and anxious about the future.  But it is confronting that uncertainty head on where we learn to dig deep and find the resilience we need.

 

Marlene Anderson

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