Sorry, J. Geils Band.
I’ll admit I don’t know much jargon inside other realms. But I love learning new words. And I get metaphors.
So I got the concept behind getting frozen within your frame. Look at the pictures and photos around your house. How long have you been looking at them inside the same frames? Ever redecorate and have a “before and after moment”? Wowza. What a difference a simple “frame-change” can make.
Now apply that idea of reframing to your life. Here’s how I first learned of the term in a real-life scenario:
A beloved and well-established friend, and school social worker, was meeting with a mother and her two kids, sans father. Even though the father was clearly the ignition of the family’s problems, the mother kept insisting, “But what will the children think if I leave him?”
To which my expert friend reframed the mother’s concern by saying this: “But what will they think of you if you don’t?”
Hmmm. Same picture of a life, yet a different frame in which to see it.
There-in lies the art and craft of taking the same tableau and gently inserting it into a prettier, shinier, more provocative frame.
To quote Wordsworth, “and, oh,/The difference to me!”
So when people first began inserting their “do-gooder-ness” into my divorce by saying things like, “But aren’t you worried about breaking up the family?”
I’d reframe and reply with, “I’m not breaking up the family. I’m saving it.“
When my mom and dad were going through their own divorce while I was still in high school, their therapist who was working with us gave me another good tip: whenever someone asks you a question that makes you feel uncomfortable, simply reply, “Why would you like to know?” (It’s kind of fun to watch the reactions of that one!)
Here’s another good one from Dr. O: when somebody asks you (or corners you) about a subject you’d rather not discuss at the moment: “Sorry I gotta run, but we’ll catch up later!”
Don’t freeze yourself unless you wanna get stuck. Find a new frame.
In the AP Seminar class I teach, we discuss that there are eight lenses we may choose from in order to see things.
- Cultural & Social
- Artistic & Philosophical
- Political & Historical
Eight frames! So many more experiences through which to see life! This hidden gem shouldn’t be hidden anymore…here you go, world! Thank you, AP Seminar! Seven alternatives to life!
I’ve learned as much about my own life from teaching AP Seminar as the class has learned from me this pilot year (I hope, fingers crossed). The kids have realized that during collegiate conversations, one student may only be looking at a controversial topic through an ethical lens, while another may be looking at it through a scientific lens. Once they recognize that, a more respectable and evidence-based conversation may ensue without the personal commentary overwhelming the convo, taking things too much to heart.
Hearts are strong, as they should be. Passion should be in our lives in so many varied ways. But too much passion about a certain topic or person should beg the question: Why do I feel SO passionately about this?
We call the answer to this question our “thresholds”.
Thresholds are factors that may hold us back from really hearing or seeing another person’s lens or perspective. Sometimes our thresholds are our religion, our upbringing, our parents, our dogma, our culture, our bubble, our environment. There’s plenty: some of which we can rattle off immediately, while others are hidden beneath our surface and only become excavated as our lives unfold. Especially when self-reflecting…hindsight helps, too.
Maybe you’re the kind of person who scoffs at the idea of all of this BS. All this hullaballoo and jabberwocky. All of this “self-reflection” and touchy-feely stuff.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I can’t hear ALL you have to offer the world if you only opened up to maybe ONE new lens if all eight seem overwhelming. I’m sorry you’re missing out on such texture that exists within this layered world in which we co-exist. I’m sorry that I don’t get to see you fully, and vice versa.
But I’m not sorry for trying to kill you with kindness. Or my tenacity. 🙂
I’m willing to acknowledge that my upbringing has greatly impacted the way I see the world. I acknowledge that my religion, my parents, my community, my job, my family have all limited me while also offering me so many opportunities.
What a paradox! Isn’t that life for ya’ though?
So while I may not always see things eye-to-eye with others because we’re using varied lenses, I can listen with respect (send righteous indignation out for a coffee break). And I can keep in mind that we need not agree nor come to a consensus nor give into “group think” mentality.
We should all be so grateful to have encounters and conversations with a variety of people.
But we do not attack people: we challenge ideas.
“Almost 40 Meg” doesn’t close herself off anymore nor does she stay quiet. I mean I have a blog. If my thoughts and ideas and words bespoken make others uncomfortable, well, I’m not one of them.
The older I get, the less I have to lose. The more I have to share.
Do not be intimated nor fooled by anybody else’s peacocking. As the saying goes: the loudest person in the room is not always the smartest person in the room.
I do not hold back my own opinions for the sake of others’ insecurities nor my own. I have a voice. God gave me one. I’m supposed to use it. So are you. And if you don’t have one, find one.
Like Sheryl Sandberg wrote, Lean In to that conversation. You have things to say and perspectives to share that others do not, merely because they are not you.
So which eight lenses are you going to try on next?
If you’d like to learn more about reframing your mindset, click the links below.