Frames and Perspectives

Perspective is something that time unlocks whenever it feels ready to. It may take weeks, months, or even years for that perspective arrow to hit you right in the heart, but when it does arrive, it is often something that makes you see the world, yourself, and the things that have shaped you in ways that will stagger you, in sometimes painful ways.

A prominent clinical psychologist that I follow once described something that he called the Frame Problem. As he explained it, we as human beings with finite understanding cannot fully grasp the world and reality on every level – it is all simply too large and too complex to comprehend. So, we build a kind of mental “frame” around the parts of reality we do understand and can control. This sets up how we see the world. We build our frames around numerous things that help us understand the reality of our existence, things such as our accomplishments, our careers, our paychecks, our religious beliefs, social status, relationships, the list goes on. The Frame Problem becomes a problem when those things we use to build our frame collapse. The job you built your sense of self-worth from ends in you being fired. The relationship you thought would complete and perfect your life ends and now you are completely unsure how to ago about your daily life again alone. The social circle you found value and identity in proves itself empty and unfulfilling and now you are aimless. When part of your frame collapses, a reality you could not previously control or understand comes flooding in and your world gets turned on its head, and it takes whatever you can to hold on. Whenever you see someone reeling after a significant life setback, you’re seeing something trying to find solid ground after their frame of reality has collapsed.

Perspective (a new one at least) comes when your frame is rebuilt – the new frame creates a new view of reality and the world in light of what you rebuilt it out of. The process is painful and exhausting, and there are some that never really recover. The flood of new and incomprehensible reality washes the person down a path that may end in heartache and pain, but recovery is possible.

I have recently gone through such an experience, as I have gone through in previous times in my life, and it never gets easier. Right now I am trying to rebuild my frame as best I know how. It will take time, it’s a process that invites introspection, honesty, and the need to challenge one’s self. But, something I have learned through this process so far when comparing it to previous times is the need for ACTION. In the past when I would go through similar storms I would let myself fall into this trap of thinking and not doing. This is dangerous – your mind will trick you into into a sense of fruitless self-searching that will spiral down into depression without a plan of action. There is definitely a time for mentally sorting through things, but there’s also a time where you must simply put your head down and start pushing the sled. The only way to rebuilt is to BUILD, and that means doing things and actively taking steps to rebuild your understanding of the world and of yourself. Find that new job, try that new experience, start hanging out with new people, go on that date that scares you, make time to treat yourself as someone you really love and care about.

It will be hard.

There will be setbacks.

There will be days where you will get frustrated and you will feel pain that makes you want to curl up in your bed and never get out.

But you will move on and you will rebuild if you refuse to let your life remain in turbulence. If every builder quit when things got hard we would still live in caves.

Work on a plan, rebuild your frame, and who knows? At the end your hands may be calloused and bloody, and your heart may be bruised, but you will be stronger.

Be humble enough to grind and do the work to rebuild your frame. It won’t happen magically.

Now get to building.

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