Reframing Frustration.

One valuable lesson I learned in therapy was reframing. It’s the ability to take a situation and look at it from a different perspective.  I’ve always been skilled at that, as my brain defaults to looking at situations from multiple angles. I just didn’t have a name for it.  It fits in well with my main storyline, which is that we all get to write our own story.

This morning I had car trouble. Nothing too significant, but enough to make me late… or actually, force me to cancel.

I hate being late, and even more, I hate cancellations when I’m the one making them.  I don’t mind a bit when others do it to me, but that’s a different story about introverts.

This cancellation was even more emotional than normal because the appointment was a reschedule from a previous one I totally spaced on and missed… the worst of all my fears. I hate letting people down, and not showing up for an appointment is probably the worst of my sins. It means the person waiting was left uncertain… and that is a horrible feeling.

I’ve always hated waiting for people and being an obsessive time sensitive guy that happens to be the one amongst my friends that drives and owns a car, it was something I did a lot. I am constantly the one waiting for people who need a ride. I’m on time… they’re not. Today’s story is about how I made somebody else wait.

I posted this one facebook:

 

When all else fails, make sure you get to tell a great story.
— Jeff Goebel

I think in my head that a smile makes it worth it, in a strange way. I didn’t make my customer wait long before I notified her, although I suppose she cleared her schedule for me, and now has to re-plan her morning, but it was a minimal inconvenience, and so far already, I’ve seen a few likes, and smiles and even a real genuine #rLOL.

My car is broken, I cance4lled a rescheduled appointment, but this isn’t affecting my day or my mood.

Happy Friday, thanks to reframing the bad as good.

Flatery or Paranoia

I have mixed feelings when I see TV characters using ideas I have come up with previously. I should be proud by the validation, but envy and jealousy creep in.  It makes me sad.  Another lost opportunity.  Another idea I never followed through on.

Howard-wolowitz-the-big-bang-theory-16865313-930-1246Tonight,  On The Big Bang Theory, I watched Howard a therapy technique I developed years ago for stress and grieving and bad memories.  A philosophy I had hoped to include in my book one day,  will now be remembered as a steal from TV in 2012.  Even if I ever publish online, my blog will have a link to that scene on you tube. I will be considered the copy, not the original.

In the scene, something bad had just happened, and in an attempt to deflect from bad thoughts, Howard asked Penny to marry him. Then he declares; :One day,  this will be a funny story.  Why don’t we just think of that way  now.”

My entire premise, summed up perfectly by a nerd on a sitcom.

I’m sad, because it was of my most cherished theories.  A way to lessen pain, by converting reality into story. It’s a part of my whole life philosophy based around stories.

All of our existence is just the stories we’ve been told.

Once you give in to the idea that the stories are the reality, not the truth,  a whole new universe becomes available, and literally anything is possible, far beyond what we have been told.  The moment you realize your existence is just the stories you tell, you gain a whole new outlook, and a special power.

Reality is the story – not the truth.  The truth is just whatever story you believe.

The pen is mightier than the sword, because even when we lose a battle, history can tell any story it desires. All our history, up to this moment, is told as a story.

Look around you.  The people who get noticed are the ones who tell the best stories. The people that can turn any regular event into a story, and tell it well. They’re the best sales people, the most successful at business, love, and life.

I believe we remember stories more than we remember what actually happened. As we re-tell events, we can change them, and we get to choose how we tell our own stories. We have complete control.

When something bad happens, we choose how we tell that story, and we select whether we remember it as a bad thing, or with a positive slant.  Some people tend to always highlight the negative. Others are positive. I’m sure you can think of friends and family that fall into both categories.

When somebody dies, or faces another tragic story, we tell it differently in the moment than we may in a few weeks, months or years.  Understanding the concept of stories can help you realize that you are the author of your own stories, and you can choose to tell the “5 years from now” version of any event today. It’s empowering.

I often use lines similar to Howard’s. I try to teach people to think of how they’ll tell this story in the future, and use that version now.  Comedians say that “comedy is tragedy plus time”.  Positive lessons often come from tragic events. Understanding that helps us cope.

I think of tragic events and say to myself; How will I tell this story in the future?

That’s how I think of it today.

Story Gifting

I have written many times about the power of stories,  but today I will give an example of how they can be used to change embarrassing situations into joy.

I am seated in a lunch restaurant a fair distance from my home, with my back to the dining room. As I was eating,  I dropped some crumbs on my shirt, and when I looked down, I happened to notice the collar buttons were on the inside.  I had my shirt on inside out. I felt for the label at the back,  and it is on the outside.

Embarrassing.

My first instinct was to rush to the rest room and change it, but then I started to imagine the situation from the other side. Not from my perspective of embarrassment, but from the story I was creating for the other diners who may have noticed it.  I had created a story.

arbysA lunch trip to Arby’s isn’t usually a spectacular memory event.  If it’s your first time, then maybe you’ll remember it, or a reunion with an old friend might make it special, but 9 times out if 10,it’s just lunch.

Today however, a few observant divers will have noticed a man in the corner, alone, typing on his phone, has his shirt on backwards.

They’ll point it out to their friends, and perhaps start a conversation about whether I know. I’m not saying it is life changing, or that they’ll remember me for years, or even days, but for a moment, I was a story.

Perhaps a smile.

That’s not embarrassing. That’s a good thing.