Picture Yourself in a New FrameJul 29, 2022 01:00PM ● By Meg Reilly
Imagine lining up portraits of yourself on a shelf—one for each year of your life. There would probably be some that bring a story to mind very quickly.
That was the year I tried to learn to rollerblade and I fell and broke my wrist. I knew then that I’d never be as athletic as my brother, and my whole family agreed.
Or: That was the year my middle school teacher embarrassed me when I did a whole presentation using the wrong word and she waited until I was done to call me out on it—in front of the whole class. I’ve hated public speaking ever since and avoided leading meetings at any job I’ve ever had because of that day.
Or: That was the year my best friend betrayed me, and I learned never to trust anyone that way again.
So, when you look at the last portrait, who do you see? Is that the you that you created or is it the you that is a character in someone else’s story? Because we all have a story—actually many.
Our stories are what we tell ourselves about ourselves and believe without question. But remember this: some of those stories aren’t accurate. They may have been invented or written by someone else and we just picked them up, finished the chapter and assumed what’s done is done. But that’s not all there is to it.
If you don’t like what you see in that last portrait, then reframe it. Once we realize the stories we have always told ourselves are flexible, we are free to define ourselves in whole new ways. At the end of the day, your life is a story that you wrote and can rewrite.
List some things that you believe about yourself but wish you could change. For instance, “I’m not athletic.” “I’m a terrible public speaker.” “You can’t trust your closest friends.” Notice that these beliefs, these stories come from somewhere. It could be a formative moment, a passing remark or someone else’s harsh opinion passed on you during a bad day they were having. You didn’t always believe this about yourself, but something happened that was out of your control. Maybe it came at a time when you were young or powerless—a comment, an accident or random event—and you have hardened it into a so-called truth about yourself. Something you can’t change. Notice how disempowering a belief like that is.
Have you ever said, “That’s just the way I am”? What do you mean when you say that? What are you suggesting about yourself? What if you reframe that portrait? You could say “That’s what I’ve learned.” Or, “I never learned to rollerblade.” Think about the words you use in your self-talk. You can always reframe language from negative to positive, or at least to what’s possible. There is a wide world of possibility between “I can’t” and “I never learned.”
Just picture it. Begin to revise, reframe, restore and picture yourself in a new story—one you write this time.