Consideration: Reframing reframing
“Keith, don’t you ever get tired of it all?” I don’t get tired. I do get troubled, annoyed, perplexed and sometimes even frustrated. I have the same typical reactions to problematic circumstances as anyone else. That is what lead to my discovery of my need for perspective management. I think people consider themselves to be tired when they don’t know what to do to combat the frustration associated with feeling out of control. When life gets challenging, that when we need to be energized. That is what perspective management is intended to provide.
I really believed that perspective management and reframing would catch on. I anticipated a domino effect. A person would discover their ability to turn problems into challenges, they would feel better about themselves and their life circumstances and be so excited that they would want to spread the concept to everyone they knew. It seems logical that if you give someone a tool that helps them feel more in control and optimistic, that person would want to use it. So what is the reason that it doesn’t catch on?
A colleague tried to help me put my confusion into perspective. In sports, to acquire a skill you first have to discover that you can do it and then you practice it repetitively until you become masterful at it. Like ice skating, riding a bike, pole vaulting, once you know how to do it, the “know how” sticks with you for the rest of your life. What varies is performance based on how often you use the skill and how much you practice. So once a person understands how to reframe, the potential to use it is there if a person chooses to use it. I have found that most choose not to.
It’s clear that I overestimated my potential to overcome the power of negativity. My book, “If You’re Not Having Fun, You’re Doing It Wrong,” has fallen way short of my goal to make a difference. I got the title and the cover design wrong. To much emphasis on fun, when the content focuses on self-discovery and the hard work of self-management. I do draw great encouragement from those who have read the book, applied the principles, made life changes and report to me how often they return to get direction when they feel challenged. My disappointment is that I can count them on one hand.
With so much emphasis on the negative – news, sickness, viruses, politics, natural disasters, violence, greed…, it would be easy to join the discouragement crowd. If life seems to be a burden, I can see how folks would feel tired of hauling that load around each day. If reframing could lighten the load, I wonder why people see it more as an amusement rather than a resource.
You know how I like clever reframes. What would it be like to reframe, reframing, i.e. looking for the downside of reframing. Let me give it a try.
Opportunity for false hope
Set up to be knocked down by your next personal catastrophe
Chance to figure out that optimism can’t stop bad things from happening to you.
Opportunity to fit in with others who are delusional
Opportunity to deceive yourself into believing life is not as bad as it really is.
Justification for not trying to improve your circumstances or the circumstances of others.
That was unpleasant. Not the un-frames, they’re just words. The unpleasant part is how many individuals actually think that way. Talk about burdens. Believing that life is a perpetual struggle with brief periods of respite as a set-up to confirm how hopeless you are to overcome the negativity.
In talking with a friend about this blog I was warned to tread lightly if I didn’t want to lose the few regular readers I have. People want to be encouraged, amused, lifted up! Me too. For me it’s just more important that people understand the opportunity in front of us and consider joining the quest to beat back negativity as attitude warriors. I want us to understand the playing field and recognize the enemy.
The playing field – Everyone experiences trials, tribulations and disappointments. They wear on our emotions and it is easy to get caught up in the pressures of the moment.
Fourth an inches from the goal line. Up against the most formidable defense in the league. Only seconds left. Game on the line.
Focusing on the pressures of the moment, it is easy to forget that you started this drive on your own five-yard line, your team was a huge underdog coming into the contest, your team has produced a herculean effort, no one has been injured, the crowd (pre-covid) is loving the excitement and it’s only a game. So, in the big picture, how significant is the outcome of the next play.
The enemy – Commodore Perry in the War of 1812 coined the phrase, “I have met the enemy and it is I.” Negativity comes from within. Events, circumstances, experiences are stimuli that trigger a reaction. If I react negatively, I am the source of the burden. I know this sounds like I am adding to the burden, however when I recognize that I am creating my turmoil, if I don’t like the effect, I can change my reaction.
Example: If I ruin my day being upset that rain occurred during my planned fun, I suffer an emotional burden. If I change my plans so I can still have fun, the rain becomes insignificant. Rain happens. The choices I make determines how rain effects my quality of life.
I’ve been preaching reframing as an alternative to negativity since 1984. Published a book that was to be my vehicle to return to the lecture circuit to try to make a difference. COVID presented an obstacle. I struck back by blogging. There are so many to reach, I sure could use some attitude warriors to help me take up the gauntlet.
Lest you think the challenge to great, let me close with an experience from my past.
I was providing a closing keynote at a Teen Reach conference in Champaign, IL. My topic was reframing. I was on that day and played to a standing ovation. After the presentation several participants came up to acknowledge me. I noticed a woman holding back until the others left. As she approached I could see that she had tears in her eyes. She told me that she had been sitting alone in her hotel room the entire conference contemplating suicide. For some reason she had decided to come to this last session. She said, “You saved my life. I now understand that I really have more control over my problems than I thought possible. I am going to face my problems head on and if I can’t change the situation I’ll change my attitude. I can’t thank you enough.”
I have been blessed to be where I needed to be with words that someone needed to hear with no intention on my part. When we set out to make a positive difference, good things will happen even if we are unable to see tangible results. The need is great. The workers are few. And the domino effect of positivity has unlimited potential.
I’m not tired. Just took a little rest. Getting ready for what’s going to be an incredibly productive fourth quarter. I sure would love to have you play a part in the victory celebration.