I tell a story about a picture of birds and a moth on canvas that had a large ornate frame. It was gifted to me and I thought it fairly hideous…. until I removed the canvas from the ghastly frame and discovered the picture itself was beautiful. Cockatiels, and an Io Moth on vines; just lovely without the overshadowing of the huge frame that took away from the painting's beauty. Reframing with words is not that different from reframing pictures. It changes how we see what is in front of us.
We all have different parts, archetypes that compose the complexity of being human. Judge, child, parent, victim, hero, trickster, guardian, shadow, mentor, explorer, troublemaker, liar, creator, outlaw, jester, shadow, sage, villain, innocent… there are many archetypes. Problems occur when we over identify with any one in particular, for all are part of the human experience. Carl Jung used the term “persona” to describe how we present ourself to the world and he differentiated it from the true self. Our personas are shaped by our environment, our teachers and caregiver, social expectations, and our exposure to experiences in the world. Children who are repeatedly told they are lazy, crazy, bad, ugly, or stupid usually come to believe that’s who they are and so that is how they behave. A young teenage girl whose father continually accused her of having sex with boys every time she was late coming home finally gave in, surrendered her virginity and became what her father expected. We learn to adapt to our surroundings in order to survive and sometimes we lose sight of who we really are. We forget what good learners we are and that we can unlearn and learn different.
As an example of how we can lose ourselves even in positive identification, people who over identify with being a hero may do a lot of good in the world but they are limited in their relationships with others because they struggle with having human feelings that are unhero like and they deny parts of themselves, often acting out in secret. What would it be like if they saw themselves as human helpers with the emphasis on being human? One of our most beloved books (and movie) is the WIZARD OF OZ, where Dorothy helps her traveling companions see themselves as more than the labels they identified with. The Cowardly Lion is shown his bravery, the Scarecrow his smarts… and their lives change for the better with the reframes.
How do you see yourself? What have you been told about who you are? What language could you use to see yourself differently in a way that would better serve you? Think, write, and/or talk about this and see where it takes you…..