By Monica A. Ross, LPC
This is one of those times I’m sitting here and have no idea where to start or what to write, but I’d like to keep these blog posts going even while I’m in school and working full-time. Okay, so let’s see what I’ve got. HHhhhmmm. The topic of semiotics came up today but in an indirect way.
Semiotics is anything which symbolizes something else and can include things like words, objects, and images. It’s the word, the object, the image that stands for something. As part of defining the social problem that we elect to tackle in class, we’re entering into a discussion about categories and labeling.
When I say the word “safe,” or hold up a cross, or show you an image of a homeless person, each one of those things is heavily meaning-laden and no doubt evokes emotion. Each of these things is like a shortcut in a way to understanding, just like broad categories such as the “mentally ill,” “the working poor,” “the formerly incarcerated” are all labels that no doubt bring up associations of their own—some negative and some positive.
Every social problem has its own set of categories and the way that we label and group and categorize effects how we behave towards that thing. So what we’re really talking about here from a psychological perspective is reframing. Here’s an inspirational video that came up in my Facebook feed recently.
Seth here is talking about the framing of the story of Icarus and how the framing of the story shaped our understanding of it. Shaped one way, Icarus’s hubris caused his downfall. And shaped another way? Well, Icarus lived a life not in fear but in hope. He avoided the dangers of flying too low.
As Seth points out, sometimes we fly too low in life out of fear of loss, or abandonment, or embarrassment, or failure, or even death. But the reward for pushing ourselves to the maximum of our potential leads to other opportunities that we as of yet may not possibly be able to conceive. I remember signing up for the first course I took in my master’s program and taking a deep breath and leap of faith.
There is so much discouragement these days surrounding going into social services, or into the arts for that matter. The fear is around not being able to find a job and support oneself once out of school. And it’s not as though some of these fears aren’t based in reality.
It is a long road. It can be difficult. There is competition for opportunities. And I have starved. Literally. More on that later. Lol.
But seriously, I would not have chosen any other way through this life. And the reward far outweighs the cost to this date. And every day I continue to take another step of faith.
My mind’s flashing now on the Indiana Jones movie, not that half my audience knows who Indiana Jones is or that I consider myself an Indiana Jones. Well maybe, in a way. This clip demonstrates the limited CGI of the time, but powerful moviemaking nonetheless.
Back to reframing. Take a negative and reframe it into a positive and notice how it changes your behavior. Instead of walking away or giving up feeling, there’s almost a renewed energy in that thing. But I will add one caveat.
I do think there are battles that are perhaps not worth fighting. Even at the end of the day if it’s a battle to walk away from, still then we have the choice in how we put a spin on it and the meaning that we make of it. There are even times we walk away from the battlefield only to return another day and from a different approach.