I knew a lady who had this fear of having lipstick on her teeth. Walk up to a confident person and tell her she’s got lipstick on her teeth, she rubs it off, tells you thanks, moves on and what does it mean? It means she’s got lipstick on her teeth.
For this woman, it meant everything. It meant she was sloppy, not put together, it meant she wasn’t credible. When we fail to monitor the meaning, like this lady, we attach significance or emotion to something that doesn’t need to be there, we create baggage.
Monitoring the meaning allows us to eliminate that excess baggage and free ourselves from unnecessary stress.
One of the signature tools I utilize with clients, is one that owns monitoring the meaning, is called the re-frame tool.
When you look at a situation, you tend to see it from one angle, through a certain frame. For example, a lady cuts you off in traffic and what’s your first response?
Chances are you may get angry. You might start talking to the windshield or your invisible passenger, “Did you see what that lady did!?”
It may even ruin the rest of your day. In this and in any situation, thoughts lead to emotions, which lead to actions, which lead to results.
The reframe tool allows us to get away from the anger we feel about a situation and see it from a different perspective. It allows us to ask, “What could I possibly not be seeing in my limited frame?”
There are two opportunities to interrupt this “thoughts to results” cycle. One is between emotions and action, the other is between results and what you think about them.
Notice how the opportunity is not between thoughts and emotions. Our thoughts will determine how we feel. So instead of just trying to stop feeling angry about the driver who cut us off for example, we can reframe our thoughts.
Rather than, “I can’t believe that person is allowed to drive, she almost killed me!” we can utilize our imagination…
“Awww, she’s having a baby!” Now instead of plotting how we’re going to slash her tires later we’re thinking about whether or not the baby’s a boy or girl and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside!
The cycles we create build us up or spirals us down. Fortunately, it only takes one positive thought to start that cycle on an upward spiral, one that leads to positive results.
Realistically, a lot of our holiday unhappiness in life is a result of not monitoring the meaning we’re attaching to our experiences. Sometimes not getting a holiday card from someone is just that, not getting a holiday card.
Nothing more, nothing less. Besides, no one gets those out until New Year’s anyway.
When we live consciously and monitor the meaning of our experiences and utilize the re-frame when we feel pain, we can truly create our best life.