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?
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!!!!