An In-Depth Look At CTRLJanuary 8, 2020
A BRIEF REVIEW OF COGNITIVE REFRAMING
You may recall I talked about the art of Cognitive Reframing from a previous blog. If you need a refresher, Cognitive Reframing means to create a different way of looking at a situation, problem, person, challenge, or whatever your roadblock is—and change its meaning. So while we can’t change a situation, we have total control over how we view the situation.
You might be thinking, “That’s all well and good, Meredith. But how do I do that?” It’s a fair question. After all, if Cognitive Reframing were easy and natural, the world would be a much happier place. Luckily it’s not a difficult thing to do…once you know how to do it. So I’ve developed a three-step process called CTRL + ALT + DEL making it possible to reframe any situation or obstacle.
WHAT IS CTRL + ALT + DEL?
What do you do when your computer quits working on you? You turn it off—and you turn it back on. It’s a reset tool. When you’re working on a PC this happens by hitting three buttons simultaneously. You got it— control, alt, delete. Reset and begin again.
So think about applying this tool to your life—think about resetting and starting again. Sometimes we need to control, alt, delete kind of silly things. Maybe you’ve shown up at work in two different pairs of shoes. Or you drove off in the morning with your coffee on top of the car. That kind of thing happens, these little silly things, and it can really take over your day. It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes silly things happen because we’re not in the right mindset. But other times the issues we’re facing—the ones that we need to pause and reset our frame of mind around—are serious. Healthcare challenges, relationship challenges, financial challenges, career challenges—you’re at a crossroads. How do you apply CTRL + ALT + DEL to these situations?
START WITH CTRL
Today we’ll be going deeper into step one of this process is called “Control Your Frame” or CTRL for short. So what does this mean? How do you change your frame?
Controlling your frame requires brutal honesty with yourself. You have to take a hard look at the situation you would like to view differently and own how you feel, act, and think about the situation currently. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. In the CTRL step, you have to become completely vulnerable and admit to yourself that the current situation is no longer working for you and is not serving you. This step is tough and that’s why most folks struggle with cognitive reframing. It requires vulnerability and courage to be honest with yourself about how you REALLY feel, think, and act. What’s interesting about this step, is you might think it will feel weak or powerless to be vulnerable enough to appraise what you are facing – but it’s the opposite. The power to move forward and get unstuck is in your vulnerability.
By becoming vulnerable you are forced to face your challenges head-on. What challenge are you facing right now? Grab a pen and paper then write out a list of how you feel, think, and act about this obstacle. This will not only help you clarify the obstacle, but it also ensures you are taking back power from the obstacle—and giving it to yourself! By using CTRL properly, you’ll see that you’ve had the power to get yourself unstuck all along. But most importantly, you’ll teach yourself that there is no obstacle that can overwhelm you when using this tool.
DOING THE WORK
“Gosh, Meredith. This seems like a lot of work and personal reflection!”
I know! It really is. But here’s the thing I’ve learned over the years. As much as I would like to invent a magic pill to get you unstuck (because what an incredible invention that would be, right?!) there isn’t one. Sometimes we’d like to think that cruxes like alcohol, shopping, sex, and travel serve as a band-aid—a temporary form of self-medication designed to help us move forward. Newsflash: They don’t! If anything, numbing yourself to the obstacle will make it that much more difficult to get up and get past it. Instead, I ask that you honestly face what you’re up against and how it truly makes you feel—no sugar coating! Own your feelings of anger, resentfulness, jealousness, bitterness, sadness, and beyond. Facing them is how you deal with them.
Here’s the good news. For all of the work that goes into this step, one thing you DON’T have to worry about in CTRL phase is where you’re going from here.
LOOKING AT EXAMPLES
Need a real-world example of what CTRL looks like? Here’s one that totally blew me away.
On January 1, 2020 I stumbled across a Facebook post from Rikki Lake. You might remember her as an Emmy winning talk show host on The Rikki Lake Show. The Facebook post starts out with, “Liberated and Free, Me” before describing her 30-year battle with hair loss. The picture that accompanies the post shows Rikki with her head shaved and her face proudly turned up and owning her new look. She describes in detail the despair, embarrassment, and frustration of trying to hide her hair loss and how she has decided “This time, I say no more. I have to be set free…I am releasing and letting go…For 2020 and beyond, I want to be real…I am so done with hiding.”
WOW. What an INCREDIBLE example of the CTRL step. Now to an outsider, hair might not seem like a big deal. Perhaps you’d have no issues dealing with hair loss while also maintaining a public image. But guess what? This was a huge deal to Rikki Lake! And she got really honest with herself—and her fans—regarding this obstacle. Giving herself over to her vulnerability, she photographed herself with a shaved head, shared her struggle, and took CTRL of her view all so that she could begin the journey of becoming unstuck.
Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Rikki realized she had the power in herself all along—but she needed to realize she had that power herself. No one could do it for her.
Is the CTRL step starting to make sense? If so, focus on a relationship, situation, obstacle (past or present) or adversity which requires your immediate attention and complete these statements:
- I think…
- I feel …
- So, I do…
Not sure yet? Place these three phases on a sticky note—or somewhere you’ll be forced to see it every single day. This isn’t a process to be rushed. Think these statements over and let them sit with you until you have an answer that feels true. When you have that answer, write it down.
That’s it! You’ve officially taken the first step to becoming unstuck!
In the next blog of the series, we’re going to discuss step two, ALT. So be sure to check back soon. In the meantime, I welcome your comments, feedback, and questions as we take this journey together. Be sure to let me know how this message is impacting you.