This is a contribution by Guest Blogger Angela Brizant Layne.
When I think about a frame, I think about a rectangular object constructed to hold a picture or painting. One doesn’t see the edges of this picture extending beyond the bounds of the frame; everything is contained within a discreet space with specific parameters. Growing up, I was socialized with nothing but familial and societal clues on where my boundaries started and ended. Not only was I a female child who would grow into a woman, but I was also born Black, thus doubly burdened. I watched my mother, grandmother, aunts, and cousins exist in a world where they seemed strong enough to handle any trial, tribulation, or obstacle and come out on top. Why then did these phenomenal women always have a sense of sadness in their eyes? What were their dreams, hopes, and desires?
Frequently during conversations, my girlfriends or colleagues speak about the discontent within their lives, and oftentimes their sense of failure has to do with a box that has been left unchecked on their “to do” list. I’m 30 and I should be in a relationship or married, I should have kids, I should have my PhD, I should own a home, I should be thin, I should be further in my career, I should…box, box, box, check, check, check. And while there is nothing wrong with having aspirations and goals, the problem manifests when your life’s purpose gets so wrapped around attaining a goal that you stop living in the present moment.
At the age of 21, I was introduced to “One Day My Soul Just Opened Up” by Iyanla Vanzant and my world changed. I was transformed because she asked questions I never felt empowered to ask before. I pondered why psychotic breaks happen? Was it due to traumatic home environments coupled with oppressive work and social spheres? I mulled over why we feed into a culture where being on the go, hustling and bustling, working ‘til we drop is revered? I wondered about pop culture and why we make celebrities into demi-gods, placing them on unrealistic pedestals only to tear them down 6 months later, turning them into villains. I often question if we are setting ourselves up to be unhappy for perpetuity. And if this is the case, how do we reframe our minds to shape a great life?
The biggest and first step in re-framing the mind is:
- Take the time to challenge what is (addressing the things in our lives that we don’t like), then
- Conceptualize and actualize on how to turn things into want we want them to be.
You can break the frames that once outlined your life, when you break the frames that outline your thoughts.
Challenge the lines that encapsulate what it means to be a woman, a person of color, or your role in marriage, and define yourself for yourself. Regular reflection is an effective tool, though sometimes a major life event can springboard the process. Whatever the impetus, challenging the mind so that there is congruence between thoughts and action, paves the way for self-actualization.
In my life, specific events have reframed my perspective. While in college, I took a leave of absence. During my time away, my reason for going to college crystallized. I realized university offered me a safe space to grow as a person and transition into adulthood; it was my way out of oppression, and provided the necessary tools to help me fight for others with a similar experience as me.
The recent death of my grandmother has reminded me of the importance of unconditional love and sowing meaningful seeds. As I reflect on her legacy, I am reminded of the fact that:
- Life is not about the wealth you amass or popularity you obtain, but about the lives you touch through word and deed.
It is often said that “life is what you make it.” The most important two words in that phrase are you and make. I think that we sometimes forget how much power we have as humans to effect change and navigate our own lives. Undoubtedly we cannot determine everything that transpires, but our attitude, decisions, and state of mind are within our locus of control. Remember your mind is one of your greatest assets and thoughts determine destiny. If you want a positive, dynamic, and meaningful life, your thoughts must reflect your desires.
So how can you reframe your mind to shape a great life?