Frames of Power

This is a topic that’s been on my mind for most of this week. What differentiates those who can manage their emotions, maintain their happiness, and be decisive from those who can’t? A major part of it comes down to how you frame situations.

I remind myself that I have a choice in how I mentally approach every situation. During it, I have a choice in how I interpret it. And afterwards, I have a choice inhow I frame it in my mind — what it means to me and how it affects my beliefs. The “frames” you hold determine how you filter the world and the choices you make. On a larger scale, the frames you hold as you navigate through life determine how you feel about yourself and the world around you. Most frames are unconscious and do not serve to empower you, but ultimately what you “see” you believe…

For example, if you are paranoid of other people’s intentions, you may unconsciously frame each situation as everyone trying to get something from you. Through that lens every situation will seem to support that belief. An innocent glance becomes someone plotting something against you, thus perpetuating a cycle of paranoia unless you break the chain somewhere…

Your frames either empower or weaken you. Power comes from mastery. Power comes from control. Power of your world comes with power over yourself. By framing situations in a positive and empowering way, you come closer to cultivating that sense of mastery and power. In brief, here are the frames I try to take in my own life -

I am responsible for my own emotions

In any situation, the way I feel is my own problem. I try not to dump my “garbage” (negative emotions) onto others, and I understand that no one else is responsible for how I feel. This empowers me to observe myself and how I feel to figure out what I can do about it, instead of looking for an outlet to dump my negative energy into. It also helps to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility that extends to the way I act in all things. By framing each situation through the lens of personal responsibility I first look within myself when I feel a certain way instead of looking outwards for things or people to blame.

I am enough

This is possibly the simplest frame to understand, yet the most difficult to cultivate. Believing I am enough means believing that who I am as a person has inherent value. My accomplishments, clothing, and material goods do not determine my self-worth — I do. It means believing that I don’t need to learn more, be more, or do more to create a sense of acceptance and confidence. I learn more and do more so I can live the life I want — not to feel better about who I am.

I am not fully there, but I am far from searching externally for total validation of my beliefs and ideas to bolster my self-image. For me, it takes a combination of positive reinforcement and pushing my boundaries. Self-development, and mastery of self, comes from a baseline of self-acceptance. Without a strong foundation, every attempt at becoming better is flawed. You will be pouring sand into a bucket with holes — no matter how confident you try to become, a cracked self-esteem will always sabotage your efforts. A baseline belief that ‘I am enough’ helps me calm my nerves, accept my flaws, and work to become better daily without grappling with my self-worth. I don’t see interactions, purchases, or achievements as ways to prove my worth, or to gain acceptance. I am enough.

Whatever choice I make is the right choice for myself in the moment

I try to take on a forward-thinking mindset in every decision I make. Whether or not a decision is a mistake doesn’t matter as much as whether or not I learn from it. Every decision is the right (and only) choice for myself because I’ve chosen it based on who I am in that moment, and I can only change by experiencing the outcome of each decision. Every decision leads to an accomplishment or a lesson, and both are victories. Dwelling and speculating are processes of justifying why or why not you should or did do something. While it might feel self-gratifying, they serve no purpose and don’t change the situation. This mindset helps me to be decisive and keep moving forward, but it only works with when coupled with an awareness of where your decisions lead you and taking action to correct your mistakes.

I have everything I need within myself

Happiness, fulfillment, passion, self-acceptance, are all inside of me. External situations simply trigger those emotions. By understanding the triggers, I can manipulate my external environment to create certain feelings within myself. Ultimately, however, I don’t need it. I self-generate my positive emotions through positive self-talk and pushing my limits. Neediness comes from looking for happiness elsewhere. My happiness comes from gratitude for the things I have and from being alive, and I can share it. My cup is full and I spread the positivity.

It’s no big deal (My favorite)

It’s no big deal. As long as I am alive I can handle anything that comes my way. I’ve made it this far and I can go even further. My mistakes don’t define me, they can’t destroy me, and they only drive me towards success.

I’ve changed my frames by becoming aware of the ones I hold, then re-interpreting the situations in my life in a positive way. The frames above only describe the ways I view myself, but everyone has different frames to interpret their external world as well.

Ask yourself this — is it possible that the negativity you see around you is simply a result of how you choose to interpret situations? It’s not always the case… but if it seems like all your problems come from “other people”, it’s crucial to remember that everyone is human and despite our different value systems, we all seek the same things. That in itself feels like a post for another day.

You either choose your frames, or have them chosen for you by external influences. I choose how I see the world and base my frames around positivity and empowerment, and they help me to be better every day.

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