Reframing and Living

I recently presented my Challenging Dysfunctional Beliefs presentation this past Thursday. I usually host workshops around self-care and self-compassion, but I decided to start using my coaching skills to host presentations. I chose to present on dysfunctional beliefs for several reasons, but mostly because while doing research and presenting, I find it healing and the sessions also help me to grow as an individual. The presentations bring feelings of accomplishment and value to my audience. This presentation topic was something I struggled with for a long time. The dearth of mentors in my life often left me to discover what I wanted and figure things out on my own. There were people around me, but the inner drive to achieve academic, professional, and personal goals were often left up to me – and that’s even if I set goals to begin with. I just knew I wanted something different in life – more than what my environment could offer me.

The dysfunctional beliefs in my life kept me in survival mode for many years. The beliefs limited what I could achieve and sometimes made me feel I had no value or purpose in life. In my podcast, I discussed where those beliefs and thoughts came from. I realized I hadn’t taken the time to reflect on my life and what I wanted other than something tugging at my heart. The tug is what kept me going for a long time. It told me not to quit when my limiting beliefs told me that I would amount to little in life.

Those thoughts and beliefs ranged from, “I’m not good enough to accomplish anything” to “no one wants to listen to what I have to say.” I didn’t think my voice mattered. I’ll admit society plays a role in wanting to silence Black women. We can’t be too loud nor can we be quiet. We’re supposed to do what we’re told and only speak when spoken to. We’re not children to be dominated and controlled, and yet, that’s the narrative many of us feel and hear growing up and in the workplace. The dysfunctional beliefs of others sometimes become our own. 

In the presentation, I mentioned a passage in The Body is Not An Apology that discussed how we form our inner thoughts from childhood and how we internalize those messages. If we’re not affirmed in our identities or taught otherwise, those thoughts and beliefs become our own. These judgments about what should be or what we can/cannot do can have a long-term effect on how we live our lives. If we’re not taught positive self-talk or how to advocate for ourselves, we can be triggered and spiral every time we turn around. We’ll then have these fixed mindsets that keep us stuck and limit our potential and capabilities. We can get stuck believing that everything is someone else’s fault and we can’t do anything to change. We’ll believe that nothing good will ever happen. We’ll even believe that we can’t learn new skills and develop new habits.

Random, but I just had a thought while typing this. All of the movies and books about what was expected of enslaved Black women just came rushing back. Child!!! That’s too much, but I definitely see a correlation of how people expect Black women to “act” even now.

Alishea Wynn, Reframing and Living

Yet, there is hope! We can reframe our thoughts and beliefs to help us improve in ways that can help us grow. Before I move us, I must admit there are some things we can’t change. I can’t change my height so that I’m 5 ’10” without wearing heels or surgery. I can’t change that we need oxygen to live. I’m talking about things we have control over. I can change how often I exercise and monitor what I eat to improve my fitness levels. I can change my job by gaining new skills and gaining experience. Reframing can be the catalyst that can bring about great change in our lives. Reframing is not a new concept and it’s probably something you do often, you just didn’t know it. It’s looking at a situation through a new lens. It’s how you look at a situation differently. That’s it. When we take time to reframe, it can lead to us having a growth mindset so that we can look at problems as opportunities and get feedback that can help us. 

There are potential barriers to a growth mindset that can include having little or no support, being inconsistent or procrastinating, and mental health challenges that may hinder us from moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It does take time and patience. I’m speaking from experience. Just like it took years for you to develop certain habits, it will take time and practice for change to happen. Give yourself grace – none of us are perfect. My experience with reframing and moving from a fixed to a growth mindset is something I have to practice everyday. Some days are better than others.

I spent many years with the voices of others guiding who I believed I was. I was entitled and believed I should get things for just showing up. I didn’t want to work, promote myself, or get feedback. I took everything personally and I felt when I did get feedback, it meant something was wrong with me. I knew I wasn’t perfect and I know I’m not perfect now, but the pain and embarrassment that used to come with it was horrible (to me). I felt attacked and worthless. I also didn’t work to build relationships with people outside of my family. I thought my family was all I needed and no one else’s opinion mattered. That left me without mentors or insight from other people. It also kept me from being able to ask people for help.

Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.

Nelson Mandela

Since I’ve been a Life Design Coach and going through training opportunities at work, I know that I want to practice what I preach to my students. I’m always learning something new about how my approach to life can be different. I’ve had time to reflect on past situations when people told me the truth, I just didn’t want to hear it. I can be stubborn, but I have to choose to use my stubbornness for good. For growth and advocacy, not to shut people out because of fear.

I’ll close by saying that we all learn at different stages in our lives. It is very important that as we grow older and wiser, that we surround ourselves with people who can help us to reframe, to encourage us, and to help us look beyond our circumstances. While we may have lived many years with dysfunctional beliefs or thoughts, we have an opportunity to start over everyday with a new mindset and new perspective on life. Those limiting beliefs don’t define us. We can grow, learn, and adapt when we are open to listen not only with our heads, but with our hearts.

Questions to consider:

What limiting or dysfunctional beliefs are holding you back? 

Where did these beliefs come from? Whose voice is represented?

Do you believe you live life with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? 

What barriers are keeping you from a growth mindset?

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