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Mastering the Art of the Re-Frame

We all tell ourselves things.

These things can either serve as fuel--pushing us toward greatness...

...or they can hinder our progress, keep us stuck, and serve as a crutch--representing all the reasons why we shouldn't even dare to aim for our dreams.

The trick is knowing whether these things you tell yourself are helping or hindering. But in order to know this, you actually have to KNOW what these things are. You have to dig them up from the recesses of your subconscious programming, stare them dead in the face, and ask yourself, where does this idea come from. Where did it originate?

When the things we tell ourselves reflect high expectation we or others have set for us, we can feel empowered, motivated, fired up. Like climbing a scaffold, every small win lifts us up, higher and higher toward our goal(s).

But when the things we tell ourselves reflect negative or disabling perspectives about our abilities or characteristics, then we may feel hopeless, ill-equipped, defeated, even victimized. That scaffold becomes instead an object to avoid and work around rather than a path to climb and rise.

Let's Explore the Frame as a Metaphor

I believe we are all unique works of art. No two people are exactly alike, even identical twins!

Imagine yourself as a work of art--all the beautiful strokes of color, line and texture that make you uniquely you.

Now, imagine a rather unskilled framer has chosen a gaudy, hideous, slightly damaged frame for you. Every observer is distracted from your unique beauty because their attention is drawn instead to that hideous frame. Your true beauty ends up taking a quiet back seat, and over time maybe your colors even begin to fade and the threads of your canvas begin to loosen and sag as even you begin to believe your worth is inextricably tied to this gaudy frame. At show's end, maybe you get tucked into a corner of some dusty storage room...

Dramatic? Maybe a little bit, but I'm sure you can think of at least person to whom this scenario might apply, yes?

Now, let's imagine the opposite. A different highly skilled framer notes your artful tones, hues, style and mood, and chooses the perfect complement for you. This frame is subdued and rather than draw attention to itself, perfectly draws observers to your magic. Now, observers cross the room so they can take in your beauty, admire your qualities, and gush over your expression. Over time, your colors shine even more vibrant. At show's end, you're awarded "Best in show..."

So, what does this all have to do with the things we tell ourselves?

Whether we realize it or not, we wear those things we tell ourselves like frames.

Quick story: My first real job interview post college was a disaster. Leading up to the big day I'd been telling myself I'd never get this high paying job at this huge well-known corporation and that it was a waste of time to even go on the interview. Well, sure enough on that day, I was late by 15 minutes - arriving sweaty and stressed. My skirt, which was a size or two too big, had done a complete turnaround as the receptionist pointed out upon my arrival. My already-doomed attitude got even more sour. Feeling this was a lost cause, I probably didn't do much to put my best foot forward. I even remember at one point, the interview asked--"Why should I hire you?" A common enough question. Only, Ms. Defeated sat there, and I couldn't even believe the words coming out of her (my) mouth: "I don't know why you should hire me." SMH. Well, no job offer. Of course! Self-fulfilling prophecy. I'd worn my defeat which I'd been expertly crafting for weeks, like a gaudy frame heading into that interview! (On a happy ending note, I learned my lesson though and smashed every interview after that.)

Check Out Your Own Frame

The human mind is interesting - we tend to pay more attention to and remember the negative things (just take a look at a newspaper and you'll see what I mean). So all the negative messages we receive about ourselves from parents, teachers, peers, romantic partners - those all pile up and end up playing like broken records in our minds.

But we have a choice. We can choose to wear those negative ideas like a frame...

...or we can choose to re-frame.

3 Steps to Re-Frame

  1. Journal: find a dedicated notebook, spiral, composition book, or pretty journal. Jot down your thoughts over the course of a day, or two, or more if you're having fun. Just set a time for 10 minutes and write--don't stop writing. Even if you don't know what to write, write "I don't know what to write!" The idea is to keep thoughts and words flowing. This is how you'll begin to tap into that subconscious part of your brain. And trust me, your brain will provide plenty of material. Just reflect on your day and keep writing--what happened, how did you feel, what did you think, how did you react, what was positive, what wasn't so positive, what was your interpretation to events.....(see, plenty of material to write about for 10 minutes.)

  2. Reflect: After a few days, or weeks, set some time aside to reflect on what you've written. Read what you've written. As you do, circle words that keep coming up. Highlight concepts that keep repeating. What do you make of those words and concepts that keep replaying? Is there a common theme?

  3. Reframe: For positive, empowering thoughts - woo hoo! Celebrate! For the not-so-empowering stuff, ask yourself: How can I reframe this? You might want to even try this nifty little exercise: grab a sheet of paper, fold it in half the long way, on the left side--write the negative or disempowering thought, on the right side--write proof to the contrary.

I'm pretty sure you'll be surprised by some of the stuff that comes bubbling up, that's been rattling around in your head all this time. Just remember: stare it dead in the face, and then reframe!

Send me a note - let me know how it goes for you! And if you'd like some support take me up on a free consultation. :D

Peace, light and love!

Susan Eckert

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