Before starting meditation class, our teacher asked us to share a word that encapsulates what we are trying to call into being this year.
I told the class that my word was "reframe." My mind often wanders toward negative thoughts when bad, sad or troublesome things happen, and I decided that I needed to change the way I think. This wasn't the first time I had divulged such information about myself and I was reminded of a quote the teacher had shared with the class before, about our words being spells. "Our words," she repeated, "are the spells that we make." The things we tell ourselves or say to ourselves, whether they be negative or positive, become "spells" that make our thoughts become our reality.
I've noticed that several people have decided upon a word of the year or theme instead of resolutions and goals. Some call it a nudge word — a word that nudges you toward making a positive change whenever the word comes to mind. At first my word was love — as in doing what I love, then joy — doing whatever brings me joy, including things I love. But then I thought about how I spent so much time during 2022 feeling dread and there were many things that I had to do that made me feel dread — doctor's appointments, taking the subway to the doctor's appointment, writing and sending out queries for my novel and much more.
I could've been cute and decided upon the word me, switching out the three in 2023 to twenty twenty-me. But I finally landed with the word "reframe." The germination of that word started with "rejection," a word I've read a lot on Twitter, as fellow writers and I went through the querying process. Then someone tweeted about reframing the word and seeing it as a "pass." I agree that getting a pass is much easier to stomach than a rejection. When you pass on something, you skip or decline, or decide to not take part in something—in this case, an agent taking a pass on my novel, because either it's not a fit, or passing on an opportunity (me being the opportunity—see how I reframed that?) Rejection on the other hand, is dismissing or refusing a proposal or idea. It makes you feel, well, rejected.
I thought about what had taken away some of my joy, which, a lot of times, happened to be the way I thought about things. Several of my meditation teachers have discussed how things from our past have influenced how we think about ourselves and what we feel we need to be or to accomplish in life. It influences how we react, how we deal with people and process our traumas and experiences. So, as one teacher said, we need to retrain our brains. I don't really care for the word "retrain" because once again you are programming your thoughts. When you reframe, you take a notion or experience and decide to think differently (hopefully in an optimistic way) about situations, people and things—and yourself.
So when I feel down, or stuck, I think, "How can I reframe this?" When I feel that I can't seem to write and start to berate myself, I have to reframe the thought that perhaps I don't have writer's block, maybe I just need to take a break, read a novel for inspiration, take a walk or do something to calm my mind. The nudge word or word of the year reflects how you want to live in 2023. After all, it worked a few years ago when changing my mindset helped me as I went through cancer treatment. Instead of thinking of chemotherapy as a toxin, I thought of it as a method for healing.
To reframe means I can change the negative words I tend to use on myself and about my life or experiences, reframing them into something positive.