Thursday, December 16, 2010

Re-frame it

Lately it seems like all I do is complain. I complain about money, about our house, about my relationship with my husband, about my lack of “time off”, about my son, about work, about it all. So many of the conversations I have in my head and aloud end in “why me???” and people, let me tell you, my mother never allowed us to act that way growing up. She wouldn’t stand for it. Her stock answer whenever one of us started complaining: Guess what, kiddo? You may think you have things pretty bad but someone out there has it much worse. Guaranteed.

So it was with some measure of comfort that I learned about “re-framing“ through Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Ms. Rubin gave a name to what my mother always tried to teach us: take the negative way you think about things and “re-frame” those thoughts into something more positive. Perhaps you’ll realize you don’t have it so bad at all.

Here is my attempt at “re-framing”, Sara-style:
  • COMPLAINT “I hate walking to the train in the snow every morning, my feet are frozen, and my hat makes my hair look stupid when I get to work.”
    • RE-FRAME “At least I don’t have to sit in traffic for an hour to get to work and I get to spend 20 minutes ALONE on the train with my book/magazine/iphone with no one bugging me."
  • COMPLAINT “We’re constantly broke and why the hell did I go back to work if we still never have enough money?”
    • RE-FRAME “Though money is tight, I’ve learned quickly how to spend more wisely and what’s really important and necessary for my family. I am a budgeting MASTER."
  • COMPLAINT “My husband works 24/7/365 and we don’t get enough ‘family time’.”
    • RE-FRAME “My husband works 24/7/365 for US so he can make life better and more comfortable someday. Plus he really, really, really loves me and our son and tells us everyday. Oh, and he takes care of the morning routine with our son and that is absolutely priceless.”
  • COMPLAINT “I hate laundry. And emptying the dishwasher. And cleaning the bath tub. HATE.”
    • RE-FRAME “At least I have a washing machine that works. And is on the second floor next to our bedrooms. No lugging full baskets up and down stairs. At least I have a dishwasher that washes the dishes for me and it truly takes 5 minutes to unload. The tub though? That really does suck.”
  • COMPLAINT “My son drives me crazy when he takes 20 minutes to get out the door/refuses to put on shoes (or PANTS! why no pants? it’s WINTER)/takes a frillion hours to eat a simple meal and then demands a cookie.”
    • RE-FRAME “My son sleeps through the night in his big boy bed and DOES NOT GET OUT OF BED. That’s right, I said it. All night long, no visits out of his bed into ours. HIGH-FIVES FOR ME.”
  • COMPLAINT “My ass feels like it’s getting bigger from sitting at a desk all day (and office holiday treats are in abundance...helllooooo, cookies)  and there is no time to work out.”
    • RE-FRAME “My aunts told me I looked skinnier at Thanksgiving so let’s just believe them. And my pants still fit.”
  • COMPLAINT “Our calendar always feels full and like we’re constantly rushing around to this or that or the other event.”
    • RE-FRAME “A busy calendar means people like us...we have friends and family who want to see us and spend time with us.”
  • COMPLAINT “My house is drafty and leaky and old and needs new windows/furnace/garage/basement re-do and why the hell did we spend so much money on it?”
    • RE-FRAME “I have a pretty house on a pretty street in a really awesome neighborhood. It needs some work but my husband and I are handy-types so we can tackle some of it ourselves. We can walk to every possible store/restaurant/amenity you can imagine plus we have some fantastic neighbors. We have a good school at the end of the block. It’s the perfect size for our small family. It has beautiful moldings and built ins and creaky floors. And at least we’re not homeless."
I feel better already. I am not advocating Pollyanna-ish behavior because I think that’s ludicrous and people who are always looking at the bright side live in a fake universe. But maybe, sometimes, it helps to look at what’s bugging you and try to think about it from a different perspective. Perhaps a new view of the same old is just what you need.

How about you? What can you “re-frame”?


Maggie said...

COMPLAINT: My husband is either at school or work and when he finally does get home he is thinking about school or work.

REFRAME: At least ONE of us likes earning money. Also I have plenty of time to watch all my cranky British detective shows that he hates.

I feel better already.

Steph said...

Complaint: I hate when the boys and I are sick with colds (that ultimately turn into bronchitis/pneumonia)! How does my hubby always seem to bring it home but avoid it!

Re-frame: We've gotten so much cuddling time! The boys are so much more lovey dovey when they're sick. Plus, while I feel like Ive been hit by a MAC truck, Im alive. :)

MadameQueen said...

Complaint: UGH, I hate doing laundry!

Reframe: Well, at least I don't have to wash the clothes in a creek. Or on a scrub board! All I have to do is throw them in a machine and turn it on!

k said...

Complaint: The money we're spending on Iris' nanny is financially killing us slowly.

Reframe: Iris is thriving like it's her job and she's been nothing but healthy and happy since getting out of the hospital; something our pediatrician is amazed about.

Erica said...

LOVE so many of these - especially "my pants still fit".

Complaint: My daughter loves waking up REALLY EARLY.

Reframe: We get to hang out together before she goes off to school.

Kristina said...

I LOVE this post. Not only does it feel like you climbed in my head and picked it all right out of there, but it is SO true that re-framing can work wonders on your outlook.

COMPLAINT: I hate my job and I hate hating the job that keeps me away from my kids 45 hours a week and pays crap.

REFRAME: I HAVE a job, something that a lot of people right now would give anything for.

Anonymous said...

Oh, boy, do I EVER sympathize with the husband working 24/7, esp during the holiday season. It's nice to be reminded that I'm not alone. I can say with certainty that I have turned reframing the fact that he's always leaving for the office/coming home late into an art. My latest reframe? I am planning (in my head) to someday spend Christmas with my family at a tropical getaway resort. In four or five years. Fingers crossed! By then, both my kids will be old enough to dress themselves in the morning.

Elizabeth said...

Dude, I totally loved this post. If nothing more than because I have been complaining about drowning in laundry for weeks and now all of a sudden I find myself thinking about how damn lucky I am to have a washer and a dryer right here in my house.

And I share many of your complaints and concerns and even if I am not as good as reframing them it is nice to know I am not the only one with creaky floors and an overpriced house that needs a lot of work. :)

Jodi V said...

Great post!!! I have been complaining lately because I'm getting no sleep from having a two year old and a new baby. I started to remind myself how lucky I am but still seem to find more complaints. This post has really helped to remind me.