In Vernon Howard’s book, Esoteric Mind Power, he writes:
“If a mechanical robot made a rude remark to you, you would not feel offended, for your ego would not feel threatened by a mere machine. But because you fail to see that most people are equally mechanical, you attribute an ego to them, which causes your ego to think they can harm you. When you deeply see the man-machine behind human personality, you cannot be offended.”
Now, whether you and I choose to see our fellow human beings as mere machines or not, what the author presented was a wonderful example of what is known as a “reframe.”
A frame is a premise; the foundation from which everything else emanates. Basically, when we reframe, we make a “decision” to see an event differently than from that of our usual belief system. We choose a way conducive to our happiness and personal growth instead of misery. Yes, it’s the same event, but since we view it from a totally different point of view, it’s effect on us is…well, totally different.
For example, let’s take the event (someone makes a rude remark to you) cited by Vernon Howard. Perhaps we usually see that as something to take personally. As a result, it can cause harm to our self-image and self-esteem, elicit a rude reply to that person, try our patience (“I don’t have time to deal with jerks like this!”) and generally ruin our day.
How could we instead take that event and reframe it so that it “serves us” and our happiness instead of the opposite? Understanding that, in the real world, different circumstances certainly call for different possible courses of action, here are a few thoughts:
- “What a great opportunity to practice my patience with people!”
- “What an excellent opportunity to practice ‘responding‘ (which means you are in control of yourself and the situation) instead of ‘reacting’ (which means another human being is controlling you)!”
- “How fortunate I am that I don’t have the same problems and feeling of unhappiness that this jerk…er, uh, I mean, poor guy, obviously has.”
- If appropriate to engage in a conversation with this person as a result of their rude remark, your reframe can be, “What a tremendous opportunity to practice my influence skills and persuade this person to my point of view!”
For the next week, focus on reframing every apparently negative situation (both “people-wise” and “event-wise”) in a positive light. You might want to imagine various situations in advance and come up with a reframe you can utilize in the event it actually happens. Difficulty with your boss, spouse, child, friend, customer, etc.? What would be a positive reframe for you? Or, your car runs out of gas, you spill milk, slip on a banana peel (does anyone ever actually do that? :-)) or anything else you can imagine.