The Process of Reframing

     Years ago I purchased several prints of paintings created by Vincent Van Gogh.  Two of them were taken to a professional for framing.  By using various shades of matting and surrounding the prints with unique shades of wood and metal, the framer was able to enhance both paintings.  The matting and frames helped certain colors of Van Gogh’s renderings to stand out, colors that would have remained more obscure without the framer’s enhancements.

     When students study Spirituality, they develop a unique set of skills that sharpen their living and thought patterns. Among these skills is one called, Reframing.  Here are some examples:

     Rather than being hurt by someone’s harsh and inconsiderate words, students teach themselves to reframe such comments.  The words only served to make visible the spirit of the one uttering them, an activity that may have nothing to do with the one being hurt.

     Rather than becoming mired in the politics of the office, skilled students reframe the warring camps by remaining creatively detached.  They teach themselves how to become observers who do not permit their emotions to become entwined in matters they cannot solve or cure.

     Rather than allowing circumstances to draw them into competition for gaining the favorable attention of a potential mate, students learn to reframe the tension by realizing that their own neediness is on stage, a threat representing one of their dragons.

     Reframing is never about winning or losing, good or evil, living in heaven or hell, or defeating the world’s values. Reframing helps students create techniques that maximize self-esteem, enables students to live peacefully and gives permission for the universe to be large enough to accommodate beings that possess values far different from their own.

     Reframing allows students to abandon the need for external approval, possessions and love (love that assumes the form of a need for attention, admiration and validation).  Each person is a complete being, safe, loved and capable of loving.  Each spirit has been designed to seek to extend itself rather than to define itself with needs that seek and demand to receive.  Those who have learned how to reframe all the chapters of their lives create a tapestry of unique design.  Every deed, episode, exchange, blessing and curse serves the growth of the individual spirit.

     By learning the art of reframing, students protect themselves from spiritual attacks from external sources.  They learn to keep pockets of external energy objective by not personalizing them. Such experiences are just what they are and they become part of the abrasives or affirmations that polish their gemstones.

     Students can also use reframing to protect themselves from attacks that are self generated.  For example, “I am not happy because my mate is aloof and inattentive.” “I dislike my job!”  “What have I done to disserve this abuse?” “Why is it that everyone else has opportunity knocking at their door while I am still unemployed?”  “Something about me must make me unattractive.” “I am successful at everything I do, but I am bored.”

     The illusion such thinking creates is that we will only be happy when our external world is doing something for us.  It is we who are the creators of how we perceive.  The external world is our classroom for refinement and such an environment can do nothing to enhance our sense of wholeness or worth.  Our thoughts are what fragment us, not the reality of the classroom.

     What may make some of us resistant to such thinking is that none of this information makes sense or matches what we experience.  We do feel pain.  We have felt abused and abandoned.  We have been victimized.  We have legitimate claims against those who have harmed us or those we love.  These pains will not go away by conducting spiritual gymnastics someone has labeled reframing!  We have such experiences permanently etched into our minds and hearts.  Many of them do hold us prisoner.  Such pain is a component of life.

     The truth is that what grows in us is what we have fed and nurtured through the years.  Nightmares and scars occur because no one coached us on how to reframe them.  Barriers can be made into stepping-stones.  Intense emotional traumas can be viewed as lifting weights that will eventually strengthen and enhance our spiritual musculature.

     When we confront hostile and negative experiences for the first time, we do not have the skills for reframing them.  It is during these moments of misery that we create thought patterns and attitudes that will not serve us.  Our fearful responses created by certain painful experiences drive defining signposts into our path.  Many of these creations will reframe and define future events.  We are engaged in the process of framing our experiences whether we like it or not.  The question is: Are the frames we have made ones that will give us wings.

     For example, once hurt by a courtship that did not work, we may become cautious with future relationships.  We may refuse to go out at night by ourselves.  We may automatically resent those who are callous, rude and cruel.  We grow defensive.  We begin creating skills inspired by resentment and by the clear need for countering those who persist in hurting us.

     Our pain is nothing more than a warning device that a skill is needed where none currently exists.  Our goal is the transformation of consciousness.  We are being taught to take the high road rather than settle for the meaningless task of getting even, an accomplishment that puts us on the same skill level as the perpetrator whom we have blamed for our discomfort.

     When people need to have elements in the world fixed so that they become more comfortable, their energy is not flowing in a direction that will enhance their growth nor will they be in harmony with the flow of God’s spirit.  We were taught to become a light in darkness and that by following Jesus’ lead, we will also overcome the world.  If we do not learn how to reframe the world so that we can view adversity as opportunity, our creative choices will be few.  Remember, our goal is the transformation of consciousness.  The spirit in us must change its focus before enormous possibilities and opportunities become visible.  In some religious communities, this is known as being born again.