Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reframing Flaws

Fall is almost here. I love it when the air turns crisp. Reminds me of apples, falling leaves, and hayrides. By now, the excitement of the first day of school--sharpened pencils, new crayons, pristine notebooks--has worn off. In its place are stacks of assignments, overdue books, and a long haul until the first decent vacation at Thanksgiving. Walking along the road in the morning, I often startle wild turkeys and hope none of them will end up on the dinner table.

September is my birthday month. Every year I buy a new notebook to keep track of my goals. Each birthday is a fresh new start. My birthday goals remind me of fall leaves. Beautiful, eye-catching, and varied, but short-lived. Some have already fallen by the wayside to mix with the crunchy, dead leaves by the side of the road. And it's only been one week.

Seasons come and go. So do goals. Sometimes I reach them, sometimes I don't, but I always set them. I used to berate myself for not reaching them, but a friend--a psychologist--helped me reframe my expectations. I asked her why I always put so many things on my to-do list that it was humanly impossible to complete them. I thought it was a failing on my part. I hoped she would label it for me (e.g., superwoman syndrome or delusions of grandeur). She did, but not the way I'd expected.

"It means you're an optimist," she said.

How lovely! Now I have a beautiful new way to look at my lifestyle choices in a positive, upbeat way. It took a lot of pressure off. Maybe it's time for you to reframe something you criticize yourself for...Look at it as an asset rather than a detriment. Be good to yourself this fall.