Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Benefits of Reframing


When looking back on the events of our lives we often recall memories that carry an emotional charge. Feelings evoked from memories can be positive: happiness, joy and enthusiasm; but they can also be negative and bring back memories of pain, anger, and resentment. So how do we use memories to serve us rather than hurt us? We learn to reframe.

Often, our memories serve us well. Through the process of reminiscing, recall of positive memories can aid in healing depression or just lift our spirits! We can use positive memory triggers such as a pictures, songs, or old love letters to invoke feelings of happiness and contentment. By being in touch with our “sentimental side", we are able to invoke memories that bring us continued happiness and a feeling of well-being.

Our memories can also be sources of pain and turmoil. Negative feelings from memories are often a result of unresolved issues or unexpressed emotions associated with an event or person, and since these issues have not been resolved they carry a large burden of repressed emotions connected with them. These memories may be from childhood—a time when we were not mature enough to understand how to deal with event or circumstance—so the lack of maturity and insight may have caused us to feel like a victim, whether or not we actually were. By nature we conjured up the human “fight or flight” response, in which our bodies automatically protect themselves and moved into a state of denial. This denial only caused the associated feelings to be repressed in the mind and body where they will stay until eventually released... or not.

People spend millions of dollars each year to open old wounds and revisit painful memories trying to make sense of them. Many methods such as counseling, meditation, rebirthing, hypnosis, and traditional therapy seek to uncover the roots of repressed memories and apply present wisdom to help release and heal them. Whichever method(s) you choose it's important to release memories which have been repressed in the mind and body, for unexpressed emotions are the root of dis-ease.

Once we have released our repressed emotions we can learn to look at events in a new light through reframing. Reframing includes revisiting an event, remembering the words that were said and actions that took place, our reactions and thoughts playing through our minds at the time, and then remembering the conclusions we made based on our observations. With that knowledge we can check to see if we may have been hasty in our assumptions or conclusions. We are suddenly allowed to examine those assumptions and see if they're still valid. If they aren't, we can now change them. For example, we may often assume that we were at fault for the outcome of an event when we actually weren't at fault at all. By reframing the event with an enlightened (present) understanding, we can see the a clearer reality underlying the event the whole time.

Above all, reframing lets us learn how to accept. Acceptance is a critical step in personal evolution as it honors the relationship between you and the rest of the world. To learn how to accept events and people as they are will be a catalyst for your continued growth, and reframing will allow you to understand the memories of your life with an attitude of acceptance, appreciation and gratitude—no matter what events are or may have been.

This week, take the opportunity to think about where there are opportunities for reframing in your life. Could reframing help you to move beyond past pain and into present resolution? If so, perhaps it's time to release that pain, guilt, or shame. It's really your choice... you just need to start. Give it some thought.

Be Well,

The Ambassador of Goodwill