How You Frame You?

Written by Tony BroadbentFuture You

How you frame yourself ultimately defines you and your possibilities.

Time to reframe?

Our mental frames shape how we see ourselves - how we see others - how we see the world.

They give context to our thoughts, our attitudes - our every deed. They provide the framework for every single thing we do, think, see, or say.

Every decision we ever make is a direct result of the mental frame sets we employ every single day of our lives. And those same conceptual frames either restrict or expand our possibilities. Best case? They open up new horizons and new opportunities. Worst? They shut down all paths to new thought and experience. And your creative potential remains unrealised.

Our frame sets - the ways in which we perceive the world - become the very scaffolding upon which we build our lives. We each create our own reality in our own minds. We see it as a direct representation of the world around us. But it isn’t anything of the kind - it’s a fabrication of our own making. Hinduism refers to it as ‘Maya’ - the world of illusion.

The hard truth is, though, we can’t do without our mental frame sets. They’re a vital part of who and what we are. We rely on them to give focus and bring context to an ever-changing, increasingly complex world.

Trouble is, our mental frames not only come to shape our world, they in turn put limits on how we think and act. And thereby come to define who we think we are — the mind-set that defines all our future possibilities.

Our mental frames not only come to shape our world, they in turn put limits on how we think and act.

Is it any wonder then that we tend to think the same old things and react in the same old ways? Why we increasingly come to see only what we want to see - hear only what we want to hear. Close our minds to anything that contradicts our entrenched beliefs.

Birdcage? Goldfish bowl? Echo chamber?

Whatever you call it. However you think of it. It represents an unnecessary ‘Stop’ situation on all we do in our lives. Reason enough, surely, for you to want to disrupt the status quo.

All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.
ames Thurber , arch humorist and ardent observer of life

Free will?

It’s certainly not as free we’d all like to imagine it being. You’ve already programmed yourself to act one way or another - regardless of events - with you just waiting for someone or something to press whatever ‘hot buttons’ you’ve so painstakingly created for yourself.

The true tragicomedy of it all is that if you get bored enough with yourself and your life, you’re the one that’s likely to end up pressing those self-same ‘hot buttons’ - even if no more than to let you and those around you know you’re still alive - even if not exactly kicking.

That’s why - as often as we dare - we should seek to define our existing mental frame sets. Examine them to see whether they’re still relevant. See if our webs of perceptions still apply to who and what we want to become.

Then if you find yourself dissatisfied with what you find, to resolve to do something about it. Simply being aware of the fact that what we take to be ‘reality’ is formed, shaped, and created by our very own beliefs, biases, and assumptions, our loves, hates, and fears is a good start. Then you can begin to question each of those mental frames-sets in turn. And thereby begin to take responsibility for who you are in this life.

He not busy being born is busy dying.
Bob Dylan , yet another arch humorist and ardent observer of life

Daunting? Not really. It’s the very act of you questioning anything at all about yourself that opens up new doors of thought and possibility.

The one constant in life is change. And if you never go out of your way to question yourself - disrupt yourself - make a concerted effort to get out of your own way - you’ll never change - you’ll stay as sweet or as sour as you are. And then things will come to take away and what gets taken away won’t always be to your liking or to your benefit.

Break your step and meet a stranger. You.

The only things you can ever change in yourself are the little things - at least to begin with. The big lesson just waiting to be stolen here; change enough tiny things - about how you see you - how you see the world - how you think and act and feel - and “Abracadabra” you’ll soon see real and effective change in yourself.

Best, though, not to try and change everything about yourself all at once. That wouldn’t be at all helpful. You don’t want to throw a perfectly good baby out with the bathwater. And yes, dear Alice, I know it’s an old saw, but one so apposite it’d be a shame not to use it here. One comes to think about such things differently, once you realise they apply directly to you.

Think for instance: How many times have you said you couldn’t do something and proved yourself to be right?

Well, enough of that. It’s time to take that all-important first step outside of your comfort zone. Time to focus on the ‘why’ of you so that you can purposefully reframe yourself - and so come to redefine yourself.

That single step is all that’s required to start with. All you need do then is take it little by little “bird by bird” just one small step at a time.

At this stage, you needn’t delve too deeply into why you see things as you do. The idea here isn’t for you to give yourself a critical roasting. Perish the thought. And there’s no need yet to look for answers. It’s the simple fact of you asking questions of yourself that kicks the whole thing into motion.

You might even ask yourself: ‘Am I different when I’m alone?’ That’s a real un-corker of a question.

It might also be a good time to start thinking about the new and different ‘you’ waiting for you just over the horizon. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the preternaturally gifted chronicler of The Little Prince, once said, “A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us.”

What a lovely thought.

Next step? Opening your mind to the power of positive thinking.

Think on.


Written by
Tony Broadbent
Writer. Author. Designer. Illustrator. Idea-tor. ReThinker. BABE (Bay Area Beatles Expert). Tony Broadbent was an art student in London in the late Sixties. He then worked as a copywriter and creative director at some of the best advertising agencies in London, New York, and San Francisco, before opening his own agency. He's now a consulting brand strategist, planner, and ideator for clients in the U.S. and Europe.

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