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Shifting the Frame

My husband usually laughs at me when I correct what he says. I’m not a grammatical queen or always inclined to speak politically correct, I just change certain phrases to reflect a better outcome. For example, something as simple as changing “if” to “when”. “When I am able to support myself with my online content” frames the statement in a much more positive way than “if”. This usually applies more so in conversation when talking about the future and the inevitable stress of finances.

When my husband says “we will cut down on what we have to in order to save, even if that means eating ramen”, I get pretty upset. Maybe it’s silly but I would much rather say: “we have serious financial obstacles ahead of us, so we have to work hard in order to overcome them”. Essentially, I mean the same thing, but my solution is framed differently so I feel that I can actually live through the obstacles instead of struggle through them.

I think on a bigger scale, this can be mistaken for the saying, “just choose to be happy”. As someone with an overall positive outlook and happy personality, I wholeheartedly disagree with people who claim they just “choose” happy. Perhaps this is because of my small experiences dealing with depression, or maybe because a statement like that is too good to be true. If someone is sad or naturally finds the negative or prepares for the worst, “choosing happy” just doesn’t work with their brain chemistry. It’s like asking someone who’s starving to just “choose to be satisfied”. Yeah… anyone who knows hunger knows that asking that is kind of impossible.

So then does my way of framing statements make any difference? Perhaps not immediately, but in the same way denial becomes a person’s way of thinking, a positive spin on the truth will also affect your way of thinking.

Years ago, my best friend and I had just met while we worked as actors in a local theater. I quickly realized that he would often say things that were somewhat outlandish and over-confident, but he did so to balance out his low self-esteem. Saying things like “I’m gorgeous today”, “I am talented”, or “I am good enough to be cast as a lead” were ways of almost tricking his brain into believing what he said. That way when he walked into an audition or a dance class, he had this fabricated confidence that he could walk in and out of there with no problem.

As years have passed, I’ve used these techniques to fight my way (mentally) through tough moments like recitals and job interviews. I have also discovered the power of using mantras and personal affirmations to bolster my attitude during the day. These slight changes in the way I speak have made me more confident, more demanding, and have dramatically shifted my personality to be more open and positive. This kind of attitude (especially for a woman in a male-dominated industry) has been invaluable to me.

So I encourage you to try it. Maybe for just a day or a week or even a month if you can. I don’t think this is a “fix-all” solution, but I certainly have experienced the power it can have on my mood and my perspective. Force yourself to stop when you are feeling down, and tell yourself:

When you receive that job offer, not if

You are good enough, what can you do to show that more effectively?

You will overcome the obstacles ahead of you, no matter how tough they might seem.

Today is your best day, and tomorrow will be your new best day.

Good luck, and know that I believe in you!

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