Within our frames of reference we find all the experiences, emotions and information we have stored throughout our lifetime. These frames of reference form our perceptions and beliefs, what we say to ourselves and others. They motivate and guide our thinking, our emotional responses and our behavior. How we frame our world creates meaning and helps us make sense of our world.
If our frames of reference are small, our lives will be restrictive, limiting, negative and inflexible. If we enlarge our frames of reference, we see a bigger picture, learn to let go and roll with the punches, develop an inner strength and resiliency to begin again.
When dissatisfaction, crisis or tragedy strikes, we respond to it from the frame of reference we have developed. Our first reactions might include shock and disbelief, then anger followed by anxiety, fear and even panic.
When old resources and options are no longer available, we might feel helpless and out of control. And as so often happens, we barely regain our balance from one loss when another occurs making us feel as though we were spiraling into an abyss. And we might hear ourselves say: why, why me? I have always done everything I should – it isn’t fair. I worked hard and honestly for what I have and now it is all gone.
At such moments, we go from anger and fear to a sobering reality of survival; and there is the temptation to find a scapegoat for our troubles as we nurse resentment. But while there is a payoff in doing that, remaining in that state of mind eventually creates bitterness that robs us of energy and motivation to find new solutions.
It is precisely at these times where the promise and opportunity for a new understanding of our self and our world can occur. Growth, whether it is the simple exercise of working out at the gym to get back in shape, or the challenge of taking what life dishes out and making a gourmet meal, holds within it both pain and loss; choice and opportunity. To grab hold of that opportunity, we need to look at how we frame our world. We may not like what has happened, but we can choose to accept, let go of what was and put a new frame around our circumstances.
Reframing takes what life has handed us and gives us the opportunity to respond differently to it. It allows us not only to transcend difficult or traumatic life situations, but to find humor, purpose and joy within them.
In Thursday’s blog, I will share ways we can reframe.
©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC