Language and Re-Framing

Once again a post is inspired by something from Seth Godin. Here is another excellent post that got me thinking (click here to read the post at his blog):

“I’m under a lot of pressure…”

The ellipsis hides the most important part of this sentence:

“I’m under a lot of pressure from myself.”

When you have a big presentation or a large speech or a spreadsheet due, the pressure you feel is self-induced. How do I know? Because stuff that felt high-pressure a few years ago is old hat to you now. Because it used to be hard for you to speak to ten people, and now it takes a hundred or a thousand for you to feel those butterflies. Because not only do you get used to it, you thrive on it.

Unless you’re in a James Bond movie, it’s really unlikely that the pressure that you’re feeling is anything but self-induced.

What you do with the pressure is up to you. If it’s not helping you do great work, don’t embrace it. Pressure ignored ceases to be pressure.

Initially I titled this post “It’s All (Hidden) In Your Head.” Then I changed it to “Everything Is Hard . . . Until It’s Easy.” As I write this paragraph, the post is untitled. Let’s see where I go with this inspiration from Seth . . . .

My first thought is how we use language and which word we choose (“pressure”) is tremendously important. If language is the key to thinking, and thinking enables our capacities of gratitude, introspection, joy and problem-solving (among many other!), then we should be respect and cherish language, right?

What if we say “This is a tremendous challenge?” That could work if we respond well to the word “challenge.” But if for you challenge (typically) means hard, or impossible, then maybe another word is in order.

What about “This is a great opportunity [for growth]?” Do you get inspired by opportunities? Are you able to re-frame situations into opportunities in your mind? Or is that just some BS wishful-thinking trick that self-help gurus talk about?

I could on, but want to say that 1) pressure isn’t a great choice of words (in my humble opinion, and I know Seth’s use of it was intentional) and 2) whatever word you do use matters.

I do my best to see things as opportunities for growth and/or learning, but when I can’t, I ask myself “Is putting forth the effort and experiencing the discomfort (or “pain”) of accomplishing this in-line with my values and goals?” If it is, I tell myself “I need to do this (and in a (real) sense, I then want to).”

What about you? How do you approach difficult (or scary) tasks, or ones you feel you have* to do, but don’t want to? Can you re-frame them in some constructive way? (Please know: it took me a long time of meditating to gain greater awareness, values-clarification and goals-setting and lots of exposure to excellent ideas before I could remember to pause, reflect and re-frame (if appropriate) and I still drop-the-ball.)

So, everything is hard . . . until it’s easy and it’s all (hidden) in your head.

(* And if you can’t re-frame them, and they aren’t healthy/useful/authentic, then let them go (and/or adapt and grow your life and Self to make them irrelevant).)

Scroll to Top