Same Facts: Reframed: Different Story

Most of us are all too aware of “spin” these days.  As the facts of any given story get turned and twisted into new truths, it makes us uncertain that anything we read or hear is the truth, the real truth, and nothing but the truth. Right?

Recently, a story surfaced about a powerful sitting Congressman who was found to have a family member with a notorious criminal past.  When confronted with the facts, the congressman’s staff had “re-crafted” the history of this serial bank robber who had escaped from prison more than once.  The new version read……”he was not only widely heralded in the banking system of the state but also played an integral role in reforming the prison system.” Yes, those WANTED posters were hung in every bank in the state. Everyone knew of him.  And, after his multiple escapes, there was massive prison reform to correct the escapee problems. Well, alrighty then…….you could call all those words……T R U E….ish.

Reframing the facts.  Very powerful stuff.  And, it cuts both ways.

Sometimes we need to reframe the facts to get to the truth.  The real truth.  Because, we can  spin things in a negative direction that cripples our clear vision of ourselves and keeps us from finding authentic purpose and direction.

A young man was in my office last week.  Fresh faced. Wide-eyed. He possessed a true star quality. But his anxiety over wondering if he was ever going to figure out what he was supposed to be or do had brought him to my office. Fearful of making a huge mistake, in choosing a major and then a career that would lead him,”stuck” into a life of cubicle farms and bosses he hated, he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. He was keenly aware of how hard his parents worked to provide a college education for him, so he also had a fair share of guilt and shame over the fact that he felt lost.  He felt like a loser.

All of his friends had their lives mapped out, he said. They had their majors. Their families all had money, buckets of it.  And, although his family was by no means poor, he was always the “poorest” of his friends. Some of his buddies were already set to enter their family business. Life, for them, was already a stroll down easy street.

While he was smart enough in school, math was his nemesis.  And every college degree seemed to require some nasty class in math. His friends sailed through while he never seemed to “get it”.  “Loser” flashed in neon on his forehead.

Time for a reframe.

Sometimes people appear to have it all together when they are just afraid to admit they don’t really have a clue. Maybe his friends were actually just hiding out behind a huge wall of fear.  He, on he other hand, was being refreshingly honest.  It’s only when you can admit that you don’t know, that you feel lost, that real, bone-deep help can arrive. I would call that BRAVE.

Sometimes the “easy street” other people appear to live on is full of pot holes the rest of us never see. Maybe being expected to be in a family business kills a person’s spirit.  Maybe they will never know the thrill of having a dream of their own and buckling up for the roller coaster ride to see it come together……when that is exactly what THEY need to become the whole person they  were truly meant to be.

When I asked my young client if having his parents telling him what to do the rest of his life would appeal to him, the answer was clear.  His face puckered up like he had just stepped into a pile of raw sewage. Suddenly, the idea of have a “set” life didn’t seem so great.

Then, there’s math. My own nemesis. Math requires a brain that is wired to think sequentially.  A follows B.  There is a neatness to the whole thing. Equations always come to the exact, same conclusion.  There is one right answer. Some brains are like that.

Mine’s not. At all.  And, as the results showed in his testing…..this young man’s brain was born to be thinking out of the box.  Creative, conceptual, non-linear, random neural firings. Not a smidgeon like anyone else.  Just as it should be.

The desire to “fit in” needs a global reframe:

If you want to experience deep, abiding satisfaction in life……don’t spend the majority of your time and energy figuring out how to fit in. Find your uniqueness.  Embrace your quirks. Figure out how you are outstanding and share THAT with the world.

The world needs people who just think differently, who are more comfortable with the concept of things not being quite so neat, of things not having just one agreed-upon conclusion.  Living a non-linear life allows people like us to pluck and chose things in whatever order they appear to complete a project or to envision a brand new concept.  We are more comfortable with ambiguity and unknowns.  We provide a balance and new windows of opportunity for those who have “always done it this way.”

So, in thinking about himself THAT way…..the idea of having his whole life spelled out for him, suddenly became almost repulsive. Seeing the value of wiring like his made him see what a contribution his way of thinking and being, could offer to the world.

He also got to take a look at how much time he spent comparing himself to his friends……feeling less than.  We began to turn that idea on its head too.

DIFFERENT became a very good thing. Realizing that he was wired for spontaneity and creativity rather than a prescribed path, especially one determined by others, who might also be judging him every step of the way (as in his parents) made him feel relieved.  “Less than” flew out the window. Now, the idea of his friends having it “all together” didn’t seem all that swell.

He also saw his hard-working parents in a new light. With his friends, the family money was just always magically there.  They never got to see the time and energy required to make a home and family work. After talking about it, he saw that he was getting educated by example in ways his friends would remain clue-less. Because of his exact circumstances, he wasn’t behind the 8-ball, he was ahead of the game.

In reframing the facts of his circumstances, and armed with this deeper, truer knowledge about his basic strengths, he also realized he did not need to have every answer ahead of time.  His natural strengths and talents clearly showed he had an amazing ability to think on his feet. It also showed he could problem solve in a moment’s notice with a totally clear head. He could be both creative AND down to earth AND empathetic. Do you think the world could use a few minds like that, right NOW?  Would you, in any way, consider that kind of person, a loser?

Reframe.  Same facts.  Brand new view.

Even I need a good reframe periodically.  Half-way through my 65th year, I can think of myself as quite the old geezer sometimes.  Some mornings after a night of tossing and turning, I can wonder who that raggedy old face is, looking at MOI, in the mirror.

I find much of technology and all things computer and social media driven, as mind-boggling as math was in the 10th grade. Confounded by Facebook.  Not interested in Twitter. 6 second videos on Vine. Big whoop. Selfies for every frigging occasion…..really?

Then, I think about how wise I’ve become.  A WHATEVER attitude occupies a larger piece of my soul.  I’m glad when most things that confound me, end up finding their way to some kind of funny reframing of the facts.  I subscribe to the adage:

Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.

I’ve lived long enough to know that no matter how many times I fall down, after a tiny little pity party, I will pick myself back up and charge ahead.  I’ve lived long enough to connect many, many dots that couldn’t seem to find a theme before. Seeing a pattern makes things feel more purposeful and therefore useful. My out of the box life, with all of its this’s and that’s…and squiggly swirling things….works. Can I deal with the treachery of transitions and the unexpected phases.  You bet. Bring it on. That makes me feel very proud of myself.  I can do this thing called LIFE.

Messy and gnarly forevermore, amen.

Messy and gnarly reframed…..turn into fascinating, frustrating, funny, frightening…..flippin’ incredible.




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