Psychological Authority Frame - Which are you?
Our frame of reference is one of the key mental programs we are all running. It involves how we determine our needs and desires and how we evaluate our successes. Where do we get our authority, rights, privileges, and permissions for our actions and decisions? How much, and what kind of feedback do we need to know to gauge how well we have performed?
These Authority Frames set our Beliefs and tell us what to Value and these decisions guide our lives in every way. The key is they control our thoughts and what we tell ourselves about our experiences too.
Women raised in the 1970’s and earlier, were expected to “defer” to a male opinion, to do what they were told, to honour and “obey”. Today young women have no concept of this, nor do young men. Some young men actually find it appalling that older males treat women with so little respect as human beings. Young women look surprised at this strange concept of deferring to men. Thankfully this is a solid "paradigm" shift and will enable younger women & men to move past this old debilitating way of being in the world.
Internal Frame of Reference (being myself and referencing me as my authority)
When we have an internal self referencing frame:
I am doing what I want to do and using my own thoughts, feeling and frames as the authority. I take action without needing permission or approval from others (or even imaginary authorities in my mind – ie: what mom or dad would do, what my boss would say, what my partner wants)
I don’t wonder if my parents would think it was a good idea for instance; we generally feel surer of our own thoughts, values, beliefs, skills and tastes.
We act in ways we deem appropriate, even though we might gather information from other sources too. The ability to decide for oneself is the basis of self-motivation, self-regulation and self-confidence. When talking about or evaluating decisions and actions (such as whether I have done a good job), I tend to use words such as I, me, my. For example “I was happy with how the interview went, I put my best self forward”.
An extreme internal frame of reference can go beyond confidence to arrogance. It can come across as self-centered, and as a failure to listen to and use other people’s feedback. Here we can be closed-minded and therefore fail to notice things have changed, or we’re not getting the results expected which can create frustration and impatience
External Frame of Reference (when all your authority & permissions are outside of you)
As kids, we start with an external frame, we have to. We are learning skills from the trusted adults around us. When children are mis-treated in families, they often develop and even stronger sense of externalized frame of reference. It’s how we survive the family of origin “ issues”.
We observe and notice how others are using power, and how our parents set this AUTHORITY FRAME and embed it in us: “Wait till your father gets home”, is a classic. Why is it useful for mothers to use? Because at the end of her day and she’s frustrated with kids, she uses the EXTERNAL AUTHORITY FRAME of your Father – to get the kids to stop doing whatever they are doing. It gets control of situations and quickly, even if it’s just temporary
AND we do need advice and guidance from people who know more than we do. We aren’t born with the capability of knowing the consequences of eating 2 pounds of chocolate (sometimes we never learn). Whenever we learn something new, or encounter uncharted territory, an external frame is useful as a guide, however, when we set up an External Frame of Reference as controlling our every move, we’re in for trouble.
Probably the biggest difficulty with an extreme external frame of reference is the inability to be self-motivated. They can also have problems with making decisions for themselves, because they are too busy pleasing others.
These are the people who end up in careers their Dad chose, partners Mum approved of, a life the culture admires, and then wonder why they seem to have a perfect life but are miserable and uninspired. They can become out of touch with what they love to do, what clothes they like, even what they want to watch on TV. Decisions and choices, and using their VOICE , or voicing an opinion are often very challenging and create anxiety. Public speaking would be a nightmare, panic feelings are often present...these are symptoms of externally worrying about what others will think of me.
They often won’t change until everyone else has. This is a herd mentality An extreme external frame will take criticism personally. It affects them strongly and can flatten a good sales person or employee, derail the efforts of a struggling student, or collapse a marriage.
OUR PERSONAL sense of self is one area where we really do not want an external frame. Taking other people’s biased opinions about oneself as valid is a recipe for low self-esteem.
So why use an External Authority as a Reference?
Primarily we learn this as children, as the external reference in a conversation is for the express purpose of quoting an AUTHORITY to gain control over what is being said or discussed. ie: “your father is going to…” ; "WELL the government says", or “the doctor said” “My teacher says” etc
And we notice when someone used an Authority Frame, or Quoted someone else as the Authority, everyone paid attention and generally went along with the Authority. Even Dads, Teachers, and other Authority Figures – will listen to an Authority Frame. Just watch what happens when they get pulled over for speeding by an AUTHORITY FIGURE like a police officer. It won’t matter who you are
Where else might you have you placed your authority?
THE DOCTORS – MEDICAL TREATMENTS and THEY SAY – THAT DOCTOR SAID …, THAT REPORT SAID …"Well, they are doctors, they should know."
“But I don’t understand why the doctors didn’t know this? – they didn’t train in nutrition in med school. WHAT?????
"You mean I can know more about my body than doctors or weight loss experts who claim to know?"
So I said YES to what they recommended and I got into a terrible mess. I stopped listening to my body and I listened to these EXPERTS just like everyone else, (external reference) even Oprah is listening to them, and she CAN”T BE WRONG.
So there must be something wrong with me, that these diets don’t work for me, must be my body, there is definitely something wrong with me.” (All external authority informing internal beliefs about oneself) and it can be devastating.
When Science and Medicine can’t explain something or fully detail why someone is not recovering or healing through applied science models, they blame the patient. IBS and Fibromyalgia are auto-immune disorders, so now the patient is told, “yes it’s your body attacking you, and well, we can’t do much about that – after all, it’s your body”
When we place our full Authority outside of us, we abdicate so much of our own healing potential and this is a key component to any Health & Wellness program. You have to bring your whole body, mind and self-determining and self-organizing being to the table with you and THEN work with care and selection.
Suggestions can be made, indiscriminately which may influence your belief in your ability to recover so guard against those. These doctors and medically trained scientists are after all, humans too
A recent client shared she is working at removing a virus from her system, utilizing many health approaches only to be told regularly by the lab, “there is no point to continually checking to see if it’s gone, you will have this for the rest of your life”
If she believed that she might stop doing what she’s doing to help herself
You can shift these inner Frames easily once you become aware of them and how they are running and determining your life choices.
The key question: Are they Useful, in achieving your Outcome?
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