Remember the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”?
In the film, actor Bill Murray is a weatherman who dreads having to do the obligatory Feb. 2 coverage of Groundhog Day.
To his eventual horror, he keeps waking up to the same day — the one he dreads the most. He is stuck in a time warp that makes him feel desperate enough to attempt suicide many times, act in bizarre ways and fall into a despondency.
However, he eventually finds a purpose in his plight. He learns new skills such as speaking French, gets to know the people of the town he can’t seem to escape and wins the heart of the woman he loves. He learns to reframe his situation. Finally, he wakes up and it’s Feb. 3.
Some of us keep waking up to our own personal Groundhog days. We repeat the same argument with our spouses or children. We can’t seem to find a career that fits us.
We wonder why we’re scared to leave home. We can’t stop procrastinating or feeling anxious or depressed. Bill Murray’s character discovered a new way to think about this situation, and this was the magic bullet to getting him unstuck.
Stephen Arterburn writes about this concept in the book “Reframe Your Life: Transforming Your Pain Into Purpose.”
The book discusses the life of Sheila Walsh, a co-host of “The 700 Club” and well-known conference speaker. For years she struggled with depression that stemmed from a difficult childhood. Though she had a wonderful father and loved him deeply, he began to experience uncontrollable rages which he mainly vented them onto her and not her other siblings.
When she finally received some counseling, the psychiatrist told her that perhaps her father had chosen her to bear the brunt of his rages because he knew there was nothing he could do that would change the depth of her love for him. Her love was more real than the other children’s love, so he had attacked the one person he felt could handle it. When she heard this, it was like a miracle in her life.
Arterburn writes, “She did not excuse her father’s behavior, but she understood it in a new and meaningful way. Years of mystery were cleared up as she was able to reframe her past and see it from the perspective of a father who loved her deeply but could not control his own feelings and behavior. From that moment, unresolved pain and emotion were no longer a controlling factor in her life.”
Before learning to see things differently, most people live life influenced by unconscious thoughts, memories and feelings. Through this frame we shape how we see ourselves, others, the world and even God. When we examine our beliefs and life interpretations, we often find the roots for how we are feeling and behaving.
When we choose to believe that there are more options for how we see the past and our current experiences, we discover new ways of thinking, feeling, and living our lives. We gain a fresh perspective that can be transformative.
Tabi Upton, MA-LPC, is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center. Email her at email@example.com.