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How We Can All Reframe the Crazy

Feb 16, 2016

Someone once told me that Millennials quote 6 movie lines per hour. I’m not sure where the data came from or if it’s actually accurate, but I think it’s funny how lines from our favorite movies slip into our everyday language.

In a talk I gave recently, I shared one of my favorite movie lines. The line comes from the opening scene of The Italian Job when one man enlightens another about the meaning of the word “fine”. The man says, “F.I.N.E. stands for Freaked out, Insane, Neurotic, and Emotional.” All too often, we say we’re “fine” when we’re actually far from it. Someone recently told me F.I.N.E. can also stand for “Feelings Inside Not Expressed.”

Speaking of “fine,” have you ever had one of those experiences where everything kept getting crazier? Like you were caught up in a whirlwind and you weren’t sure what was going to happen next (except you expected it to be something bad)? What do you do when it feels like the proverbial wheels keep falling off and you didn’t know you had this many wheels to fall off?

In those moments, it helps to be able to reframe our circumstances, to take a different perspective. There are many ways we can reframe our experiences.

Story Reframing Pete Holmes

One of my newest reframing devices came from a podcast episode. I love podcasts! One of the podcasts I’ve enjoyed in the last year or so is Pete Holmes’ You Made It Weird. Holmes is a standup comedian and the former host of The Pete Holmes Show on TBS. He and I see the world very differently (and our language reflects this gap too), but his fascinating, super-long conversations always leave me with a few nuggets to chew, write or speak on later.

On an episode last year where he interviewed Lewis Howes, Holmes shared an insight a friend shared with him. One of Holmes’ friends is a pastor and he was going through some really challenging times in his church. In the middle of these transitions, many people said hurtful things about this pastor. Holmes said his friend began to use a tool to reframe the moment. Pete’s pastor friend would say to himself, “Well, this is going to make a great story to tell one day.”

Isn’t that an incredible perspective?! “This is going to be a great story to tell one day.”

Some of us are living moments which will be incredible stories to share over a meal or a coffee or a road trip. I mean, people are going to interrupt us in the middle of us sharing the story and say, “No way! That couldn’t have happened. You’re making this up!” The story you are living may be written about in a book or turned into a movie or become an illustration in a talk to help someone else.

Implementing the Story Reframing Tool

Reframing Story blank journal

I started thinking about this reframing tool and I realized I wasn’t actually in a position to employ it myself yet. To have this kind of healthy perspective, I’d have to make some adjustments. I wonder if these are some of the same adjustments you should consider too.

-Let go of arrogance

We battle pride when we get into the middle of a challenge and presume that no one knows how hard this is and no one else is struggling like us. This kind of attitude is not only arrogant, it’s also inaccurate. When we begin to open our eyes and humble our hearts, we discover that the struggles we’re facing are similar to others. We also discover that our frustrations are are an obstacle to growth.

-Abandon self-indulgence

I’m writing this post on a holiday, which has me thinking about my tendency to be lethargic and lazy. It’s this lack of self-discipline which sacrifices future opportunities because of present self-indulgence. The Roman philosopher, Seneca, is quoted as saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” In other words, preparation makes us ready to seize a “lucky break.” When we abandon self-indulgence, we get ready to transform a crisis into an opportunity.

-Release bitterness

We live in an “age of outrage.” The online magazine, Slate, labeled 2014 as the year of outrage. In response, we even have “reverse outrage.” According to a Vox report, reverse outrage is “the righteous internet backlash against an initial statement or display of outrage.” We are offended far too easily. We go from offended to outrage 0.6 seconds.

We need to hear the wisdom of James, the brother of Jesus, who wrote, “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

If the unexpected moments we’re living today are going to become incredible stories to tell tomorrow, we will have to release bitterness and open our hearts up to forgiveness. While unforgiveness stops the story dead in its tracks, forgiveness keeps the story going!

-Embrace hope

All positive perspective on the future is rooted in hope. Hope is essentially a belief that the end can be better than the beginning. Hope is not naiveté – which is unaware of how life really works. Hope is also not optimism – a positive spin which demands we ignore inconvenient facts at hand. Hope looks reality squarely in the face, acknowledges it all and chooses to believe anyway because something greater is going on than meets the eye.

“Someday, this is going to make a great story.” This reframing statement invites us to lean forward because there is something we cannot see, something going on we do not realize, something about to happen we cannot anticipate and something greater at work than we know in the present.

When we stop and think, “I wonder how this story is going to turn out when we tell it one day…”, we are leaving room for the unexpected. And if I’ve learned one thing in my 31 years of life, it’s that life is constantly surprising me. “I didn’t see that coming” is a phrase I use more and more.

When we let go of arrogance, abandon self-indulgence, release bitterness and embrace hope, we get a front row seat to the story unfolding in front of us. A story which is guaranteed to shape and mold us into different people. A story which we will get the privilege of telling years from now, which some people will not believe.

The greatest stories are lived. I’m believing the moment you’re living is going to be a great one to tell one day!

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