I mentioned in last week’s podcast that I’m really not one for coming up with “End-of-Year” articles (or even “Beginning-of-Year”; if I’d gotten the Self Journal in June, I would have started my review then). And this one doesn’t really count, because it’s not original.
My friend Spike has had a tough year in 2015. I won’t go into details that aren’t mine to share, but suffice it to say that no one would look at his experiences and say “Oh, he had it easy.” It has been a privilege, as a friend, to watch him rise to the challenges, often with unbelievable grace and dignity and always with a sense of humor.
He finished it off with a recent post on Facebook:
Last night, my attitude going into the new year I wanted to just hate all over 2015. I mean, let’s be honest, some horrible things happen – globally and locally.
But, a wise person reminded that many amazing GOOD things happened year, and that victories, however grand or small can only be achieved when a challenge is presented…
Would I call my significant other’s bout with cancer a challenge? Yes, a significant one. But, had we not been presented with it, we wouldn’t had been able to take that challenge on
…the future is easier to look forward to when we leave our challenges behind us.
I read that and sat there, stunned. I spend hours writing this blog, but in that one update he packed more wisdom than I think I have in hundreds of posts.
The Power of Reframing
What Spike reminded me of was the power of reframing – a nice little side-benefit of the tendency we have to make up narratives about our experiences. Sometimes that’s creating an epic life and other times it’s just acknowledging the challenges of the moment – or the past year.
Here’s a neat thing about reframing: there’s an app for that! I was part of the beta-testing for an app called “Koko”, and it’s a great way to get the benefits of social media buzz while actually doing some good.
People put up brief challenges they are dealing with – “I love my husband, but I’m tired of being poor,” or “I suffer from depression, and I think that makes me a bad Mom for my kids.” The rest of us (us being users on the app) try to help think about this in a different way – finding the opportunity within the difficulty. For example, my contribution to the latter one was:
“I have an opportunity most Mom’s don’t have: I can model for my daughters how to deal with anxiety and depression in real-life situations. Sharing my struggle and working thru things together will give us a closer bond and they’ll be better prepared to deal with it when they’re adults – in themselves or their partners.”
Notice that the idea is not to solve their problem – no White Knights needed. Instead it’s a practice of empathy (putting it in the first person) and then re-framing the situation. Will it help? Well, the user thanked me for it, so I guess it did, but regardless it helped me – by exercising my re-framing muscle, so to speak, as well as giving me the little dopamine rushes of having my answer “upvoted” six times (the equivalent of a “like”).
Unfortunately, Koko is currently only available for iPhone, but Android is in development. Meanwhile, you can reap the benefits of reframing by following Spike’s example, and learn to love your 2015 not in spite of the difficulties – but because of them.