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How to Reframe Our Story to Create a Better Life
Contributor
Written by
Terri Kozlowski
December 2019
Blogging
Contributor
Written by
Terri Kozlowski
December 2019
Blogging

When we are going through any painful or traumatic event, it’s usually hard to look at things from a different perspective.  As time passes, we gain alternate viewpoints.  It’s through this reframing of our story that we create the change we desire in our lives. 

The stories we tell ourselves create our lives.  These versions of what we tell ourselves establish our identities and the kind of person that we think we are.  Out stories also give our lives meaning, help us to make sense of the world, and guide our actions, even from a young age.  This ability to gain perspective overtime is built into our human nature, if we are willing to alter our mindset.

We need to start paying attention to the stories that we tell ourselves and to others. The key is to remember that we’re the storytellers; therefore, we can view our stories in any way we deem. That is, we can reframe our stories so that they serve and support us instead of harming our lives.

After all, it’s not the impartial world that affects us, but how we characterize and understand the world. In other words, what matters isn’t what happened to us, but the stories we tell ourselves about what took place. 

Reframing is a term from cognitive psychotherapy, which simply means seeing something in a new way, in a new context, with a new frame around it. ~ Elaine N. Aron

Reframing is a Tool

We form our own reality based on signals which bring to mind our beliefs about the world and ourselves.  As a result, we either end up feeling good or feeling bad. If you’re on a team that feels bad, chances are you won’t reach the sales quota because your energy will be low as well your enthusiasm and ingenuity. So, what can you do to feel better and be more productive?

The first thing we need to do is not to react the way we’ve done in the past, which was to keep feeling bad.   Feelings are something we can choose to change.  So, instead of feeling bad, choose a better feeling alternative.  To do this, the second thing that needs to ensure is that you have to change the meaning of what occurred.  As you change the purpose of the event, you can revise the feelings you associate with the occasion. 

Reframing is a way of viewing events, concepts, ideas, and reactions to find more useful alternatives.  It is a practical and valuable tool to shift perception.  Think of reframing as putting on a different pair of eye-glasses. What would you see if you put on a pair of sunglasses in a dark room? You would see shadows and dark forms you couldn’t identify. However, when you took off those glasses, you may see something beautiful when you switch your lenses, what you see changes. Likewise, reframing alters the story you tell yourself about what happened.

The spirit that I am advocating is reframing how we view the world and shifting from the negativity of lack and "not enough" to the positive frame of aligning with Nature. ~ Frances Moore Lappé

Is this story helpful or harmful?

When I was told by a college friend that I was getting something for playing the victim of abuse instead of living as a survivor, I became aware.  I had an Aha moment.  I was woken from the stupor of pain and anguish to the reality that, at this point, almost a decade after the abuse, I was causing my continued suffering.  Only when we become aware can we change our mindset and, therefore, our lives. 

My story of abuse and abandonment by my mother, whom I hadn’t seen since we were left on the street in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was choosing to relive each day.  Looking back on this, it seems irrational to relive a terrible experience over and over again.  But I did it, and it was not helping me in any way.   For a while, I was ashamed for allowing this event to have so much negative power over me for so long.  However, we are not to shift the blame from the abuser to ourselves.  We need to take responsibility for our actions and choices after the traumatic event occurred.  By taking responsibility, we reclaim our power over the story, and only then can we reframe it.  

The language we use is extremely powerful. It is the frame through which we perceive and describe ourselves and our picture of the world. ~ Iben Dissing Sandahl

Is there a different viewpoint that changes the story?

What other perspective could I view the trauma I lived through when I was a child?  As a teenager, I was unable to see any other version of my story.  But due to my college friend, I saw a different perception of those events.  I could see myself as a survivor of child sexual abuse.  Survivorship is a positive way to view trauma because I did survivor the ordeal.  

So, I took back my power and became a survivor, not a victim.  Reframing my story from one of victimization to survivorship was the first step in creating the vision for my life that I wanted.  Realize that this isn’t an overnight process.  It does take time for our ego to let go of this fearful storyline that it has perpetuated to keep us in a constant state of fear.  As a result, you will have days that you fall back into the old pattern of victimization.

Nonetheless, you now know that you can decide to re-choose how you want to live, no more victimhood, or any other negativity from the past.  We can each moment choose to reframe the negativity into a story that is beneficial for our lives. 

Instead of saying, "I'm damaged, I'm broken, I have trust issues," say "I'm healing, I'm rediscovering myself, I'm starting over. ~ Horacio Jones

Does this story inspire others?

As the author of your narrative, the way you reframe your stories affects more than just you.

The more responsibilities you have and the more personal connections with others you have, the more likely you influence others.  Your story impacts your family, your friends, and even your co-workers, whether you realize it or not.  This is due to the fact that since it affects you, then it affects those around you, even if they don’t know your story.

Your beliefs and attitudes are not hidden away, especially during times of tension.  As stress increases, if we are not fully present and aware, our egos try to take over and pull us back into a state of fear and old patterns.  This is when our past can come out for others to be affected. 

So, does our story positively inspire others, or do people stay away from us due to our negativity?  By reframing our narrative into own that moves others, we again empower ourselves to assist others in overcoming their negative patterns.  We can also help them reframe their negative comments as an illustration of how much power of words has on our lives. 

From now on, I want you to practice reframing other people's negativity as a reminder of how not to be.  ~ T. Harv Eker

Reframing Abuse

When there is significant trauma, it’s hard not to let that experience dominate the life narrative. Childhood sexual abuse, particularly from an authority figure who’s supposed to protect you, was a harrowing experience. Unfortunately, even with help dealing with the situation, most sufferers’ entire life story evolves from the hurt and pain of that experience.

There are several factors affecting recovery from abuse: the type of trauma, the brutality of the mistreatment, the length of time it occurred, the age of the child when the harm occurred, whether another person believed and supported the child, and the child’s capability of coping with challenging circumstances. All of these dynamics contribute to the capacity of an individual to be able to reframe their story. Because of the many dynamics, it may require the help of health professionals.

But with a change in your mindset, as you become aware of the negative patterns of thoughts the ego keeps perpetuating, you can choose an alternative.  By reframing the story of abuse to one of survivorship, you’re able to overcome the negative egoic mindset that has kept you in a place of fear and anguish.  Reframing is a simple tool for choosing how you view the trauma.  You can choose to see it through a growth mindset and completely alter the negative aspects of your life to a positive one. 

If a problem can't be solved within the frame it was conceived, the solution lies in reframing the problem.  ~ Brian McGreevy

Reframing Your Life

It may be necessary for you to reframe your life.  What I mean by this is, you may need to honestly evaluate your long-held beliefs to determine if they are still things you believe.  Or, maybe, you now see a different perspective, and therefore those beliefs are no longer valid.  You may want to focus on those parts of your life that are currently causing stress and anxiety.  

Go back over your life and think of those events that may have determined a current mindset or belief system.  Childhood experiences are particularly important because you may have developed beliefs based on those experiences which you couldn’t understand.  Now, with an adult perspective, your awareness and understanding of the situation may have altered.

As awareness of these patterns of behavior come to light, you can see the consequences of your actions.  This allows you to take responsibility for the choices you have made.  There’s no one to blame, which will enable you to start again with new insight.  Once you take responsibility, you have empowered yourself to take control of your life.  As you move forward, knowing that you have the power to choose better behavior. 

Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it. ~ Marianne Williamson

Changing your Self-talk

One of the ways to reframe your life is to modify your self-talk. We program ourselves with our inner voice that witnesses and reviews our activities in our life. Developing positive self-talk is a significant way of reframing our story. 

Let’s evaluate our stories by honestly assessing the answers to the following questions: 

  • What’s the story I tell about myself?
  • How do I remember the previous events of my life? Do I remember them in a way that permits my growth? Or, do I frame them in a way that harms me? Or, in a way that keeps me snarled in negative beliefs of who I am?
  • Does my narrative give me room to become the person I want to be?
  • What do I need to omit from my story to develop and grow?
  • When I talk about myself, am I careful with my words, as I am aware that words are powerful?
  • How do I need to reframe my story to ensure that I create the life I desire?

Now that you have appraised the narrative you have been telling yourself and are aware of the negative aspects it’s creating in your life, you can begin to change how you speak to yourself.  We want to talk to ourselves with self-care and a growth mindset.  This allows us to construct the life we’ve always imagined. 

Loving or hating the life you are living is solely all in your repeated self-talk. ~ Edmond Mbiaka

Moving Forward

After evaluating your story, your beliefs, and your self-talk, you can determine the best way to reframe your life.  It may take some time, but soon you will see the profound changes this simple reframing tool can have on your life.  These changes will not only affect you but also impact those in your life.  Maybe, even inspire them to reframe their own lives for the better. 

Maybe things aren’t falling apart; maybe things are falling into place. ~ Dr. Sam

As you realize the power of your words and become conscious about your mindset, you can alter the course of your life.  If you would like to receive more enlightening articles right into your email, fill this out now.

Do you need help with reframing your story?  Do you need support in changing your self-talk to be kinder to yourself?  If so, please contact me, and we can put together an action plan for you to be authentically you and for you to know that you are enough.

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