Have you ever found a piece of art you love, or a photograph that captures a beautiful moment, and decided to hang it on the wall? It’s great but it looks incomplete… you realise it needs a frame. You begin to search for one; one frame is too distracting, one is too boring, one is chipped in the corner… but finally you find the right frame and it improves the way the art looks. It provides cohesion, sets boundaries for the action and highlights the beauty of the piece.
People use frames for themselves, too. Everyone has a way of viewing themselves, and how we display ourselves to the world. We are framed by context and circumstances. Just like physical frames, some of our frames highlight our best qualities, some overshadow the piece within, while sometimes, the frame is battered and chipped and in need of repair.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Part of a mentor’s job is to help shape this frame; to help your mentee see themselves and their circumstances in an honest and loving light. I once had a client who was going through a difficult time. He’d been abused by a denominational leader, he’d been sidelined and rejected. I asked him, “Who are you?” and he replied, “Damaged goods.” This was how he saw himself. It can be hard to help someone reframe their perception of themselves and their circumstances when they have such a warped view of them.
How to Begin
I usually begin by asking how others in his life, people who love him, would describe him; his wife, his parents, his children, etc. Then I ask, “What is Jesus’s perception of you? Who does God say you are?”
God’s perception of us is always honest and loving. He sees us for who we are, and for who we can be. Yet, our situations can interfere with seeing and understanding this. When life is throwing curve balls, or disappointing us or hurting us, it can be almost impossible to see our lives through the same frame that God sees. A mentor can help remind us that God is always there, working for us, using our trials and tribulations as opportunities to grow and do good.
I think of Joseph’s story. His brothers hated him and wanted to harm him. This certainly was a damaged frame for his life—knowing he was betrayed by those who should love and care for him. However, Joseph’s pain and hardships were part of God’s plan to save thousands of people, including Joseph and his family.
Genesis 50:20 (NLT)
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
When I went through burnout, I was anxious and depressed. I could see no light at the end of the tunnel. This hopelessness affected my self-image—I disliked myself for feeling so stuck in my life. After coming through burnout, I see both myself and my life in a clearer and more forgiving light. I understand that burnout was necessary for me, a gift from God even, that allowed me to grow as a person and help others around me. (If you’d like to read more about my journey through burnout, check out my book Burnout and Beyond). https://www.amazon.com.au/Burnout-Beyond-Journeying-emotional-resilience/dp/B0B474JKBJ
Not all things are good, but God can bring good out of any situation.
Here are some tips to help reframe your mentee’s perception of themselves and their circumstances:
- Bounce what they have said back to them in different words. “This is what I’m hearing you say…” but phrased in a way that is empathetic and can show them how you see them.
- Be careful—people can be attached to their frames. You don’t want to damage the art as you fix up the frame. Some may even need a specialist if they are beyond your capacity to help them.
- Give it time. Reframing a damaged perception of the self isn’t done in a day. It may take years for a person to see themselves in the way others see them.
- Suggest they seek others (besides you, their mentor) to help remind them of how they are seen by those who love them.
Who can help you develop your mentoring/supervision competencies? Can we help? Get in touch with us, take the Mentor Q competency assessment https://vervelead.com/tools/#mentorq
Continue reading with these articles…
- Emotional Health
- Healthy Emotional Intelligence
- Mentoring Excellence
- Professional Supervision
- Reduced Risk
- Sustainable Life
- Thriving Relationships
- Vital Spirituality
- Well-Being Mentoring