Lately I’ve been thinking about the internal story we tell ourselves each day.
When we watch or read the news, we should always notice the way a story is framed to promote a certain line of thinking. The news presents a slant that is manipulative toward a certain end. Most people are completely unaware of the power of framing in the news and so they are easily manipulated.
But can we take the idea of framing and flip it to make it a positive in our own life?
We all tell ourselves a story about our lives each day, often without even realizing we’re doing it. The story is based upon many things including how we respond to situations emotionally, verbally, and spiritually.
Here’s two versions of the same story from my life this week, framed differently.
I wake up tired and know I am going to have to literally drag myself out of bed (again). Since my husband has been sick with a cold and not sleeping well the past several nights, I’m not getting enough sleep either. For some inexplicable reason, our fifteen year old daughter decides that she’s going to wake up full of energy before 8:00 a.m. and comes into our bedroom to tell us she’s ready to start her day. I sigh (out loud) because there goes the somewhat quiet start to my day. I depend on any little bit of aloneness since I rarely get any extended time alone. I can feel myself becoming resentful that my daughter chose this morning to wake up perky and happy when I’m tired. I tell my husband and daughter I’ll be up shortly. I go downstairs for breakfast, my morning routine already shot to pieces. Now I feel even more tired than when I woke up.
I wake up tired, but thankful my husband is on the mend from his cold. That means better sleep is ahead for both of us in the near future (unless I get sick but at least we won’t be sick at the same time). I’m thankful that he didn’t get any worse and that he was able to continue working without missing any time since he works for himself at home. God has been good to provide this opportunity for our family. Our fifteen year old daughter decides to get up super early and is in a somewhat uncharacteristically great mood when she comes to our room to announce she’s ready to start her day. We all sit down to breakfast together (something we rarely do) and have a good time discussing everything from her favorite shows to Elon Musk trying to buy Twitter to the birds and squirrels we can watch while we eat together. We pick up the breakfast dishes and all head off to do our different things around the house that morning after having a breakfast full of laughter and love.
Framing makes all the difference.
(I’m happy to tell you that Version 2 is the one I lived this week, but I’ve lived things like Version 1 as well in the past.)
Now take that idea of framing into your:
How you think about and respond to the various parts of your life each day is the story you are telling yourself about your life.
It’s also worth asking if framing becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you are constantly framing your life story as a difficult and boring slog through life, do you start to live it that way because you’ve convinced yourself it is true? Conversely, if you systematically frame your life story as an interesting adventure of faith with expected ups and downs, do you start to live it out?
Ask yourself how you are framing your life story today. As you do so, notice the way you think about and verbalize the events in your life. Take note of the specific words you use and the attitudes you display.
You are telling your life story to yourself. You might as well make it a great one.