The Power Of Reframing

It’s 4:15am and I already wrote one entire entry that was kinda good about religion and ministering but it was going something where I felt myself already getting defensive towards myself and I felt like I was framing it in away to invite self-criticism and so I’m putting it in draft mode and saving it for another day.

Reframing. That is something I’m working on in therapy.

I have discovered I have this innate drive to resist complimenting myself out loud, with words from my mouth, while looking at someone in the eye. I can write on this screen the awesome things about me every day because I write without distractions and I have the illusion that I’m only talking to myself. Telling myself, “You’re Awesome!” is much easier if there’s not another person looking back at me.

And let me tell you – it took me awhile to even sincerely be able to say/write to myself, “You’re Awesome!” so I’m not trying to belittle that. I can sincerely tell you lots of ways right now that I love myself that I haven’t loved myself in the past.

(I feel like I should just shift the direction of this entry and make it: Ways Kim Is Amazing. I might still do that.)

But many times my therapist asks me questions and I find myself phrasing them in a way that passing the “complimenting” buck of on someone else.

“Why would someone want to be your friend?” “Well! They tell me…”
“Why would someone ready your blog?” “Well, They tell me…”
“Why would someone love you?” “Well, I’ve been told…”

I have a REALLY hard time just saying, “Because I AM AMAZING.”

And the few times I’ve been able to try to say it I fidget like a crazy person and can’t make eye contact and get all weirdly choked up and start to breathe heavy and I feel flushed and you would think I was about to come clean about infidelity to a spouse or murder to a cop or something. I AM ACTING GUILTY OF SOMETHING. It’s terrible. But also highly entertaining from inside my own head.

I think learning to write good things about myself on here was a great step. I even write positive affirmations in the vein of Stuart Smalley in my bullet journal to look at if I feel like I’m spiraling. There is a part of me that is very aware of the good in me and the value in me. But there is something that blocks that the second I have to speak it out loud.

My therapist even talked about sharing my writings and I was like, “Oh, it’s terrible.”

MY WRITING IS NOT TERRIBLE. I mean, if you have problems with grammar errors and misspellings this is not the place for you, obviously. The technical component of my writing is shit. But the writing itself? I LOVE MY WRITING. At least I love my writing, while I’m writing it. But if you ask me to talk about my blog out loud I am full of criticisms and belittling commentary. I kinda get mad at myself every time it happens. I hear myself belittling this website and there is a part of me (the same part of me that writes here every morning) that gets SO MAD because this is my SOUL. Who gives a crap about grammar mistakes?

I think I often just want to prep people for the worst so they’ll be pleasantly surprised when it’s not terrible.

And that’s basically me, in person, describing myself. If you ask me out loud to list 10 good things about myself I’m not going to survive. I’m not going to look you in the eye. I’m going to get flushed and find a way to maybe mention 5 but I’m going to choose 5 that can also be self-deprecating.

“I’m really good at admitting my flaws.”

That’s one I can get out relatively easily. But do you see that? It’s a hidden jab. It’s like answering, “What’s your biggest flaw?” with “I’m too organized.”

My response is not phrased as a positive attribute. It could be seen as a positive characteristic, but it’s framed in a negative manner.

“I openly share my vulnerabilities.”

That’s basically saying the same thing but the framing of it is much better. I’ve actually said that one out loud several times in therapy and it’s starting to roll off the tongue in a way that brings me a lot of joy. I see it as a truly beautiful attribute as I see the power it has had in my life to bring me friends and joy. That one I can say now and not look like I’m confessing to a murder.

“I feel intense empathy with others.”

This is another one I’m owning. I used to phrase it like, “I’m sensitive and cry a lot.” And that’s true, but that focuses the “compliment” on the expression of the emotions: crying, and phrasing it like it’s negative. But really what’s happening is I am connecting to a person or a story on a level that is so deep in my soul that it triggers emotions that are not rooting in my own experiences but in the experiences of the person around me.

Of course, therapy is not, “Let’s help Kim compliment herself!” It’s actually only ever comes up when we’re working on other things. It’s just these moments where my therapist asks me to pause and rephrase or reframe something I said. “Can you say that in a way that’s more positive?” They’re just small moments. Well, other than the time she asked me to literally list positive things about myself and I cried for 14 days and came up with 1 thing.

It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was a very hard challenge. Look someone in the eye and tell them 5 real things you love about yourself and get back to me with how it went. I HOPE IT WENT TERRIBLE. No offense, but I need someone to commiserate with me here. I WAS TERRIBLE.

Other than that one time, it’s mainly just small moments here and there where we are discussing something else but my answers or framing traces back to that “negative talk” so it’s something I’m trying to be more aware of. As she says, there are thousands of thoughts in my head at any given moment, I need to choose which ones I give power by speaking. And while the negative thoughts are swirling around at a higher percentage than the positive ones, the positive ones are in there. I just have to take a little extra time to find them instead.

I told her that I don’t always hear the things she hears. I’m working on that. I’m trying to create a part of myself that will catch me the same way she does but I’m not sure it’s there yet. Because I truly like that, trying to reframe things – especially talking about myself – in a positive manner.

I just need to speak (in the first draft of this entry that word said “write” instead of speak which is my subconscious trying to prevent me from challenges that may be beyond my grasp) more from the same voice that writes here. I need to allow her to feel as safe SPEAKING to someone FACE to FACE as she does writing here. She’s very brave behind this screen, not so much in person. She tends to make fun of herself a lot. Which, is not something I want to get rid of because I truly find joy in making fun of myself IN A LOVING WAY. I’ve learned to love a lot of things about me I used to be ashamed of, my awkwardness, my goofiness, my clumsiness. When I fall now I truly laugh, as long as I’m not hurt. So I’m not saying I can’t pick on myself in love. I feel like by learning to do that I took the power away from everyone in the past who picked on me for the same things but from a negative place.

I WILL STILL MAKE FUN OF MYSELF! Is what I’m saying.

But I want to recognize when I’m self-deprecating out of shame, or when I’m reacting terribly to a compliment. OH MY GOD I AM TERRIBLE WITH COMPLIMENTS. My therapist has given me SO MANY good ways to respond to compliments and I want those responses to be my instincts at some point…because they are NOT now.

“I love your blog!”
“Oh my god. It’s terrible.”

Is literally something I said recently. THAT IS HORRIBLE. MY BLOG IS AMAZING, I NEED TO OWN THAT.

Anyway. This is a weird entry. This is one of those entries I sometimes think about when people ask me about my blog. “Well, sometimes I write really well thought out pieces over the course of days or weeks and then other times I just start typing and see where I end up.”

I like where I ended up here. Thanks for making it this far.

5 Comments

  • Beth

    Oh My- This was and sometimes still me. For starters, when hearing a complement, just say thank you and leave the other part unsaid. Maybe later in your progress , you can start a conversation. This was my favorite part, What did you like about it. As for us, the rest of us. Complements can have more impact if they are specific.
    You are a great Mom, wife, real estate stagehand picture taker, etc.
    You are a great ultra trail runner. You have an extra challenge in this one- You probably have to refuel and hydrate more often that some of your friends. Kind of like the difference between getting gas for a compact car vs a full size SUV. The first thing I noticed when my husband started running ultras was – Hey these people look more like you than those skinny fast runners. So ultra women look more like SuzE, Carrie, Chelsea,and KathyY. Just think of the number of extra strides you take just to cover the distance- You rock and are an ultra machine!!! Of course there is the when they fall its a longer distance to the ground thing that gives you an advantage in the boo-boo department. All this rambling to say – you rock!!!

  • Hillary

    I’ve been reading your blog practically since the very beginning and I would not have stuck around that long if you weren’t a good writer! Although you have also grown and changed and gotten even better over the years. You should be proud of what you write here — it is awesome, as are you πŸ™‚

  • MrsDragon

    This is really interesting, thank you. I have this problem when I feel like I am bragging–so for instance I have a terrible time talking others how awesome my husband is unless everyone is taking about how awesome their spouses are. It’s easy to play up the small flaws and downplay the huge strengths. I’m aware of that, so often I end up not really saying anything rather than risk offending people with how awesome he is. Which, what? I’m not sure that even makes sense.

    Anyway, yes, this is important stuff. ?

  • Di

    Goodness, yes. All of it.
    I’m a small-time blogger. I don’t post often, and when I do, I don’t have a lot of reach. But I do know that the hardest thing to do when given a complement (of any kind) is just to say “thank you!”