The awesome power of reframing
“Disillusion is the greatest gift I can give you.”
He began washing vegetables. Over the sound of running water, he commented, “You don’t see your prison because its bars are invisible. Part of my task is to point out your predicament, and I hope it is the most disillusioning experience of your life.”
“Well thanks a lot, friend,” I said, surprised by his ill wishes.
“I don’t think you understand.” He pointed a turnip at me, then sliced it into a bowl. “Disillusion is the greatest gift I can give you. But, because of your fondness for illusion, you consider the term negative. You commiserate with a friend by saying, ‘Oh, what a disillusioning experience that must have been,’ when you ought to be celebrating with him. The word disillusion is literally a ‘freeing from illusion.’ But you cling to your illusions.” (The Art of the Peaceful Warrior — Dan Millman)
OK, I am actually not able to celebrate disillusioning. But something about disillusion as a gift rang true to me . I began to reframe small disillusioning experiences as ”hidden gifts” or even directly ”gifts” when it was clear that they were helping me to place myself better on the life-map.
If this was not enough (and usually it was not) I used some of my instant reframing-tools:
If you lent someone ten bucks and you never saw that person again, those are ten bucks well spent.” (Another of my favourite zen-sarcastic sayings.)
I totally agree with this, the trick though is to not pay too much for that privilege. :)
But sometimes the hidden gifts have nothing to do with losing some cash. Maybe is something big, hard to handle and has the power to shatter our world: a disease, bankruptcy, losing someone we love, being unemployed or this very pandemic with all the challenges it brought.
”There is not such a thing like a happy victim.” (God always travels incognito -Laurent Gounelle)
This one helps me all the time. I am using whenever I am tempted to pity myself. Having a life-time struggle with depression, it used to be very easy for me to feel a victim. Not so easy now. When I see the old patterns reappearing I remember this mantra. It works like a charm: I feel so aware about the danger of being stuck in the swamp of sadness that no level of sympathy for my ”bad luck” could compensate that.
And my all time favourite:
I was annoyed by how all the journalists asked all the athletes the same stupid question. Literally, everyone: ”Were you nervous?” or ”Are you nervous?”… whether were before or after the event. Every single time. And every single time all the athletes gave the same answer… ”No, I was excited.” No, I am excited.” Every single time. These elite athletes had learned to interpret body stimulus… what are the stimulus for nervousness? Your hart races, you visualize the future, your hands get clammy. What are the stimulus for excitement? Your hart races, you visualize the future, your hands get clammy. They had learned to interpret what the body was telling them not as nerves but as excitement. And the reason that journalists said ”Were you nervous?” is because they would be nervous. Athletes would never say that to each other. They would say: ”That was exciting!”
So I tried. I did a little test on myself. So I am on a plane. We start hitting some real bad turbulence. I go ”Ahh!” And then I said to myself literally out loud: ”This is exciting!” And I was fine. And I was fine.
So I am doing it a lot now. When I found myself getting nervous I say to myself ”This is so exciting!” and I will explain to myself why. (…) Just change the narrative. It works brilliantly well. (Simon Sinek — nervousness vs excitement)
It really works brilliantly well. I joined Medium more than one month ago. Until three days ago, when this message got me I didn't wrote anything. Even the thought of writing was too much for me. My heart was racing, I was seeing a future of mean comments, my hands were getting clammy. I found myself thinking: If this can work with plane turbulences, would work also with writing.
So I, too, told myself, loud: this is soo exciting! And here is, my third post in a row! I plan to do it every day for one year. This is soo exciting!
The only thing that would make this more exciting is to know that somebody else find some inspiration in this. That in a small way, I bring something of value to somebody else. :)