A reframe of mind

We live by many metaphors and habits of language, many of them transparent to our conscious mind. Some are adaptive by helping us communicate, expand our ability to empathize with others, make sense of our lives, etc… But others wreak havoc, throttle our critical thinking, shut us off from others, or imprison us within ourselves—and continue to do so until we become aware of them and reframe our thinking in a way that they suddenly disappear, often in turn replaced by an adaptive frame of mind.

Share your breakthrough reframings of mind here, to the extent they can be verbally or visually expressed. Again, these are not sayings that you intellectually understand and ponder like aphorisms but habits of language or perception that imbue your daily life for the better and 99.9% of the time without any conscious effort or even any awareness that you’re even using them.

A very simple example: Saying ‘I feel [X]’ instead of ‘I am [X]’ as a way of both de-internalizing emotional states and accepting them as they occur.

A disclaimer: it’s easy to mistake statements like the one above as advice or digestible enlightenment. They’re not. They’re relics, guideposts, scrawls on a boulder resting at a crossroads—any or all of these things. They are not the means of getting to a fixed destination but rather hints on how to walk without stumbling, stay aware of one’s surroundings—all that ‘life is a journey’ crap.


When facts and opinions are asserted, I ask basic journalistic questions such as: how? who? why? where? and when? This helps me to index communications rather than reflexively internalizing others’ implicit assumptions.

“the economy is better” - better for whom?
“authorities say” - who are they? And who considers them to be authorities?
“how women are treated” - where? Is this equally true in Shanghai and Nairobi as it is in Detroit?
“white people” - when? The definition changes over time
"our society" - which society does the speaker identify with? Do they assume the reader shares this identity?
“we choose to” - who are we, and how do we make this choice?

I look out for categorical markers which may be hiding assumptions which should be unpacked. These often involve categories which are so broad (human being, common sense) or nebulous (supernatural, family values) that it might seem easier to leave them alone. For example, when I am told that no human being would ever posit a solution to a problem which I do, somebody might hope that this sounds exclusionary enough to explain my position away. After all, since me being a different species would seem far fetched, we can then appeal to common sense that my assertion must be categorically mistaken. Y U human WRONG, Popo?

In my experience, people love to favor polar absolutes rather than the vast continuum of middle space where most of reality is. Which is why “always” and “never” factor far more prominently than “sometimes” or “usually”. So I use a few very basic tests of universality.

Is the assertion true of all humans?
Is the assertion true of all organisms?
Is the assertion true of all physical phenomena?

Most “absolutes” people put forth to me don’t even satisfy the first, never mind the second and third. And besides absolutes, they can be useful for knowing the scope of generalization.


My brain tends to automatically translate stuff into E-Prime-ish statements which helps me ask questions to help clarify a person’s opinion/mindset.

Edit: I wrote this and then got distracted by some real work… I see that @popobawa4u has written a similar (and much better) description.

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Work ethic. Why are these two words strung together? I see no intrinsic reason to relate them.


Memory is horrible – false memories are easy to fabricate, and memories are modified every time they’re accessed. If you and a colleague remember something differently, rely upon a record – and if such a record doesn’t exist, the answer is unresolved. (There are some events – usually the most important – wherein accurate memories are in the minority.)


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