Last week I had the pleasure of being invited as the keynote speaker at a women’s conference. I was charged with captivating an audience composed of diverse, wise, sophisticated, spiritual and compassionate women. I was honored, excited and slightly nervous as this was the first time I was asked to be the keynote speaker for an event. I would not allow my fear to overtake this moment as I had powerful and life-changing information to share with this beautiful group of women; and I am not a hoarder of information.
What is framing?
Framing is seeing the world without distortions. It is not putting on our “rose-colored” glasses and being oblivious to what is happening around us. It is merely viewing life through a different lens and being open to seeing things differently.
How can positive framing improve your quality of life?
One of the main differences between successful and unsuccessful people is the way they view the world. Successful people see opportunities, while unsuccessful people see problems. When we utilize positive framing, we can see the facts in the clearest light. We will not allow negative feelings to distort our view of reality. We widen our lens to gain the strength and clarity to face the problem and find solutions.
I remember how tough the transition was for me from high school to undergraduate school. I felt unequipped with the tools needed to be successful in undergraduate school. My peers had a slight advantage over me as they took college prerequisites in high school. I’ll never forget meeting with my English professor during the first semester of my freshman year. She told me that I would have to work really hard to graduate and she was not sure if I had it in me. At the time, I almost believed her and even questioned if I belonged in college. Sure, I graduated from high school with high honors, rarely studied and had tons of success; but college was new territory. I had poor study skills and struggled with the transition to college throughout the first semester. To my “surprise,” first semester grades reflected my struggles. I was placed on academic probation and in jeopardy of flunking out of college. My parents were surprised and disappointed. I was disappointed in myself. Then 2 things happened. I remember my English professor presenting me with the challenge to graduate college and my dad gave me 2 options, return to school and improve my grades or withdraw from school and get a job. I had the entire semester break to reflect on what would be a life changing decision. I chose to return to school and hit the ground running. Instead of being intimidated by my peers, I joined their study groups and picked their brains. I wanted to learn what they learned. If you want to be successful, spend time around those more successful than you. I had a big piece of humble pie over the semester break and I was okay with not being the smartest person in the room. As a result of my humility and hard work, I found myself on the dean’s list nearly every semester and graduated with honors in 4 years. I do not share this story to impress anyone with my accomplishments, but to press upon you how a shift in thinking can change our lives. Remember, life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you respond to it.
How are thoughts, self-talk, actions and habits connected?
The way in which we choose to live our lives ultimately begins with our thought process. In “How Remarkable Women Lead,” authors Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston discuss 2 types of mind-sets; growth mind-set and fixed mind-set. People with a growth mind-set believe that nothing is predestined; their work determines their success. They look for opportunities to learn and grow; understanding that adversity, setbacks and failures are a part of the process; utilizing these lessons as blueprints for success. People with limited mind-sets are stuck and often see their talents and abilities as limited and are threatened by fresh thinking that challenges their beliefs. People with growth mind-sets see the gain, the possibilities and “make it happen.” In contrast, people with limited mind-sets see the pain, the problems and “let it happen.”
What do you read?
If you watch television, what are you watching?
How do you frame setbacks?
Who do you spend the most time around? How do they impact you mentally and spiritually?
For more self-reflection, check out Vitamin C: Healing for the Mind, Body and Soul: The Healing Workbook here.
Be careful how you talk to yourself because you are listening.
Do you speak life into yourself?
What is the first thing you say to yourself when you wake up in the morning? Are you thankful? Do you practice positive self-talk (prayer, recite daily inspirations, etc)? Or, do you practice self-defeating talk (I hate my job. I hate my boss. I have too many bills and so on)? Imagine the direction your day can take by your choice in positive self-talk or self-defeating talk.
Do you talk yourself in or out of success? Which statement best describes you? “It may be difficult but it’s possible.” OR “It may be possible but it’s too difficult.”
Framing also includes unlearning self-destructive behaviors. If we have been accustomed to negative thinking and self-defeating talk, it is highly likely that we will engage in self-destructive behaviors. Undoing these behaviors will take some time as these behaviors were not learned over night. If we are committed to unlearning these behaviors, we must take action by having the courage to broaden our lens and remain flexible in our thinking which will impact our self-talk and actions.
Our actions are based on past learning experiences. Raise your hand if you ever failed a test! Most of us experience an unsettling feeling in our stomachs when it’s time to take a test. Some call it test-anxiety. Our fear of failing another test is based on past experiences, and may affect how we take action, or if we take action. People who are discouraged and struggle with limited mind-sets tend to live in their fears. When we can reframe our experiences, we see the world differently, allowing us to pursue opportunities. In other words, feel the fear and do it anyway!
Habits-doing something religiously day in and day out. A regular practice that is hard to give up.
Good habits can include looking both ways before we cross the street, bathing, practicing awareness of your negative thoughts throughout the day, taking a few minutes per day to express gratitude.
If we make a habit of practicing good habits; these good habits ultimately become our reality. How wonderful would it be to make positive framing a habit?!?!?! “We first make our habits and then our habits make us.” John Dryden
Framing is an approach utilized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-a goal oriented, short-term therapeutic approach used in psychotherapy to challenge one’s distorted thinking, inviting individual(s) to change thinking and behavior patterns that are keeping them stuck. We use this approach at HandinHand Counseling Services, LLC, and click here for more information.
Framing is hard work. By no means am I trying to simplify this process. In order to get better and experience change, you must to set an intention to practice this approach to life. Remember, you are competing with yourself daily to be a better person. You are the wild-card. You have the power to make positive changes; if you desire.
“Our fear is not that we are inadequate. Our fear is that we are powerful beyond measures.” ~ Marianne Williamson
What are some ways that you can use framing to improve your quality of life?