“How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me?” Leonard Cohen

“I have always been better at caring for other than I have been at caring for myself, but in these later years I have made progress.” Carl Rogers

Reconstruction and Working Through

The upward turn in our lives, personal change, is signalled not only by recognition that our forebears exert significant, sometimes sadly inescapable negative influence on our lives, but by a profound willingness to alter our path, to divert to a more positive personal and social future.   

I’m not talking about changes to those hard-wired traits: blue eyes, baldness, tall, short, the sorts of things that material things like high heels, a new hairdo, hair colour, cosmetic surgery, change of job or location or even a new partner that might help for a short time, rather those ill-defined troubling responses that have no basis in your upbringing, those nagging doubts that afflict you, those inherited chains that bind you to the past.

It’s time to think of reframing, to develop a new frame of reference that includes the complex of unquestioned beliefs, values and compulsions that guide our lives. To reframe, you need to step back from what is being said and done and consider the frame, or the ‘lens’ through which your reality is being created (see Changing Minds.org). The alternate lens will challenge your beliefs, but you need to stand within that alternate reality, focussing on what it is telling you. Acceptance of that alternate view is the next step.

To reframe, then, means to change the conceptual and/or emotional setting or viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and to place it in another frame which fits the ‘facts’ of the same concrete situation equally well or even better, and thereby changing its entire meaning. (Watzlawick, Weakland and Fisch (1974))

In my recently published novel: The Veiled Thread, the principle character, Harry, hasn’t recognised the connection to the past, he hasn’t yet stepped into the alternate reality that will allow him access and perhaps control of the forces that guide his actions and reactions. In the sequel: The Severed Cord, soon to be published, Harry finally understands his part in the epigenetic continuum, though he can only yet see the first steps to a fundamental change in himself. The solution is not simple, there is no formula for success, but working at the threads of our lives may give some clues to our place on the planet.

The important point may be that:

“One should strive to understand what underlies sufferings and diseases – and aim for health and well-being while gaining in the path.” Teachings of Buddha

However, as hard as it is to accept:

“The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show.” Leonard Cohen

Bizer, G. Y., & Petty, R. E. (2005). How we conceptualize our attitudes matters: The effects of valence framing on the resistance of political attitudes. Political Psychology, 26, 553-568

Hale, K. (1998) The Language of Cooperation: Negotiation Frames, Mediation Quarterly, 16(2), 147-162

Phillips, B. (1999). Reformulating Dispute Narratives Through Active Listening, Mediation Quarterly,17(2), 161-180

Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J. and Fisch, R. (1974). Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution, NY: Norton