Perception Power, Perspective Power, the Power to Reframe!

Perception is quite a powerful thing.  It is perception that actually leads to perspective.  Both contribute to how we take in information and experiences, and assess them as opportunities or challenges, directly impacting how we choose to show up in the world.
So, what’s the difference?  
Essentially, perception has to do with our mental impressions.  Perception is why you and I can both be experiencing the same exact thing yet have very different reactions.  Example: rain….simple example….I LOVE THE RAIN. Honestly, everything about rain just makes me really happy and puts me in very peaceful mood.  See, for me, rain is actually more music than just the wet stuff that can mess up your hair and require you to change an outfit. Now, for someone else, their perception of rain might be the latter-it messes everything up from how we plan to start our day because of what it requires and may actually also be very dangerous….hello flooding.  Now as you can imagine, that leads to two very different attitudes in reaction to rain. The former perception (rain=music) results in a positive perspective towards the rain, a positive attitude, while the latter (rain=change of outfits, potential hazard), results in a more critical perspective.
Now, where the power, our power, rests is really in perspective-that attitude we take in everything we face and encounter.  In reality, given a particular situation, perceptions may be accurately more constructive than positive. Keeping with our rain example, if I’m just perceiving rain as music and when I walk out the door not prepared with rain boots, an umbrella, and the right jacket, not only will I soon enough look a hot mess, but it would also be fair for me to get a few stares reinforcing, that I need to get it together.  But what I don’t have to do is be more critical with a negative perspective, an attitude of frustration, annoyance, and the like. I can prioritize getting the right gear but the right gear that makes me happy to be out in the rain. See this pic?
florence rain
This was in Florence, Italy a few years ago.  We were out and about and it just would not stop raining, and quite frankly, it was a little annoying.  Fortunately, I did have the right jacket, boots, and a hat but I didn’t have an umbrella and definitely needed one.  I found this really cute one (for five euros no less; yes, I remember these things) and then, me and my happy-go-lucky self was dancing in the rain….ok, a little crazy, but happy, leveraging a perspective that helped me enjoy the weather and go on my merry little way continuing to enjoy all that was around me, including the company I was with.  I didn’t let rain get the best of my attitude and my time in this wonderful city!
So, again, what’s this all about? The power of reframing!  It’s about looking at all that presents itself as more of a challenge than an opportunity to us, based on our perception, and taking a more intentional approach in how we react.  
Let’s just be honest, life is hard.  There’s the old adage that if you’re not going through something right now, well get ready because soon enough, your something to go through will reveal itself.  Simply put, channel Alanis Morrisett’s Isn’t it Ironic.   That might sound negative but friends, that just life.  
Just as there is light in the world, there is darkness.
Just as there is family that that fills our soul, there can disappointment in our expectations of family.
Just as there are friends for whom we would do anything for because that’s what friendship is all about, there are seasons where we realize the friendship scale is out of balance and we have to determine how best to address the situation.
Just as there are wonderful employment and/or entrepreneurial opportunities that come our way, man oh man do they also present major challenges we just didn’t expect (hello trying to make payroll for your employees).


 Life.  This doesn’t mean it isn’t great or even barely good, it just means that life is all about seasons and just like there are days in which it seems like the warmth of the sun will be eternal, its light can fade when clouds come in and we have to find our way of making it through.  One tool is that of reframing.
 Reframing is our ability to take a situation, challenge, or circumstance that is pretty taxing and weighty and flip it, applying an interpretation of how this may actually serve us and how we can productively show up to handle whatever it is.   
I recently benefited from someone else’s reframing for me that actually was more of an opportunity than a challenge.  A few months back I started taking tap dance lessons again. It. has. not. been. easy….. at all. I have an extraordinary instructor who’s also just a really cool chick!  She’s reintroducing me to different steps, challenging me with a few others, and even pushing me into the next level class already. It’s all really, really good, but when you’re learning something new, most of us, if not all, hone in on the technical pieces of whatever it is we’re trying to pick up.  In this case,
she teaches a new step and I focus on the movements with the counts.
she adds in the music and I’m saying each step in my head to ensure my feet are moving on the right counts.
she pushes a little more and I get laser focused on watching her feet in the mirror more than my own to make sure I get it right.
And yes, I’m being a bit tough on myself and seeing this more as a challenge than anything else.  She sees and understands all of this. Then, at the end of our class two weeks ago, she says,
“ok, before you go, there’s just one more very important thing I really need you to know.  Tap is about the dance, it is about the movements and the steps and the counts and making sure you land everything.  While all of this is important, what’s probably slightly more important is to understand what really makes tap unique.  Tap is distinctive in that it is really the only type of dance that actually makes music. It’s as much about the music you’re making with each step as it is about the step.  Not that i’m encouraging this but just think, even if you miss a step, you’re still making music, and missing a step or mistakenly adding a step is just about creating a new sound!”  
 That right there, that’s a reframe!  
 Don’t settle on the struggle, the challenge, the mistake.  Just appreciate the new sound you created and keep it moving.  And if you’re really daring, hone in on your remixing instead of defaulting to reacting.
 In this life we think there are certain steps and moves we have to make in response to everything we see or don’t see; everything we experience or don’t get to experience;  everyone we expect to connect with or those with whom we don’t.
What if we let go of our perception of challenges as just tough or hard or disappointing and see how whatever we’re facing can actually serve us. Taking it a step further how can we serve the situation, elevating from a reframe to a remix and bask in the sound of our music, the music of our distinctive ways of handling  stuff than the norm, than the default.
Let’s all REFRAME-commit to shifting from settling into problems as just that, problems and move into seeing what opportunities we can seize from said problems and challenges proving to ourselves just how fabulously fierce we are!  This week’s challenges have no idea what’s coming for them….but we do!!!!



Owning the Power in Your Story!

You’ll never know the power of your story if you don’t share it.  There’s actually a bit more to it than that but one of the most overlooked sources of our own power to influence and inspire others, and make our contributions to changing the world is our own life story.

What I have found, whether it be when coaching clients, connecting with friends, and/or listening to coworkers is that when someone is going through something, or just needs a pick me up, they don’t actually need a formula, three step model, or guide to living your most fabulous life.  What they need is acknowledgement and relatability.  No, this is not about stepping into someone’s reflection space and making it all about you.  It’s about sharing your own truth in your experiences-the ups, the downs and everything in between- that helps other people.  It literally has the power to change lives.

See, here’s the thing, when we share our story-who we are, how we’ve gotten to where we are, our experiences-it helps others realize that there’s more that is similar between us than different.  It’s the acknowledgement that none of us has such uniquely wonderful and challenging seasons of life that no one else can relate.  And even when things may seem to be so different in our experiences, even in the differences, there is inspiration in the distinctions that yield.  

By nature, I am an observer, a listener.  Interestingly though, those closest to me who really know me intimately would say, yes but she’s also a yapper.  Even my mother who is he most patient person in the world will every once in a blue moon say, ok, Farah that’s enough…I need to digest.  But what I m learning is that it isn’t natural for me to share much about who I am, where I’ve been , what I’ve done, what I haven’t done etc.  It’s just not my natural tendency.  But when I do, I observe a lightening up of the person or the group that I’m talking to.  For instance, I just got back from brunch with newer friend and as we were talking, I shared some things that I thought she knew about and her eyes just kept lighting up.  At least three times in our conversation, she said, “You know I’m just so proud of you and you’ve absolutely motivated me to “x” which I’ve been trying to do for a few years now.  Now, I know someone who’s done it and I can too!”

Now, can I just tell you how much that literally just made my week!  I don’t need anything else from today or this week!  Seriously!  And all this from just sharing with her some things about who I am, where I’ve been, how I’ve gotten ‘here’ and where I’m hoping to go.  And guess what, no, I didn’t share just all the lovely wonderful, fun, happy, blissful parts.  There are some real, real “in betweens”, the tough stuff, that I shared with her, not to vent, but it’s clear….. life is hard, it is tough, it gets ug u leeeee (ugly 🙂 , but the wonderful thing is none of those seasons are forever.

So what’s the problem….what’s the opportunity?  It’s really about what we do with our story.  See, in a world of insta this and snap that and tweet that I’m here and facebook that I’m going there, we actually don’t get to really hone in on what our story really is. The story of our life journey.   For instance, a few years back during my first trip to Italy, I was taking pics all over Venice, Florence and Rome and posting like it was my j.o.b.  What I had to also set aside time to do, especially in Venice with all that gelato calling my name every corner was think about what was happening for me in that season.  So much came out of that for me.  So much that I owned for myself about some of the tough stuff I had gotten through, and was getting through.  So much that I now own being able to share with other people.  So much that actually to date has inspired friends who say, “you know what, after seeing you do that I knew I needed to stop playing games and just take my own solo trip. “ There’s power in our story.

Unfortunately, we tailor our story, especially as it is unfolding.  We message what we think others want to see and hear.  We modify truths to try to make things more palpable for ourselves and others.  Instead of saying that I grew up in a really tough neighborhood, I might say, well we weren’t in the best part of Boston but it wasn’t the worst while there’s some young person there now who needs to know that where you may be now doesn’t determine where you need to stay but you have the opportunity to determine where you will go.  Beyond that we amplify pieces that we think are more enjoyable for folks.  I work at Google and yes it has been ranked the best place to work for many years and I love the opportunities I get to seize every day.  That’s what people want to hear and I’ll amplify that truth instead of another truth that every day I am exercising change management skills in an organization that has reached another milestone in its existence and you know what….it’s hard.  It’s just not easy.  Finally we minimize hard choices we’ve had to make because of the perception we’re afraid of others having of us.  I’ve had to leave relationships that I fully enjoyed but just knew they weren’t good for me long-term.  That goes for relationships with guys and friendships that just weren’t what they needed to be in realm of mutual respect, care, concern and love.  And if I’m really honest, there’s been heartbreaking familial relationships that yup, I opted put me first and left pieces of those on the table walking away knowing that the choice was mine….and owned it!  

See it’s not all lovely.  It’s not all pretty.  It definitely isn’t all glamorous or instagramable.  But you know what.  It’s all mine.  It’s the story of Farah Bernier.  And I love every bit of it because I recognize that every part of my story has value.  Even the pieces I looooooooooathe.  They’re all valuable.  Every last piece.  And where I might not see the value in my sharing, it serves someone else.

So what’s my point?  Your life story to date is a reflection of the light you bring into this world.  The light you can bring into someone else’s world.  It all has value.  So, don’t hold back. Don’t minimize it.  Don’t tailor, modify, minimize any of it.  Just own it, make it your own, then when invited and/or when opportunities just arise, share your truth.  You just never know who may need to hear it because it compliments their truth because they realize they’re not the only one or even if it’s so different that it’s not actually complimentary, it still can inspire.  It could amplify both your realities.  Own the power of your story!

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