What’s Your Frame? How to Build a Strong Foundation

There are many uses for the word ‘frame.’ You can frame someone for a crime, you can put a picture in a frame, or you can frame a house- just to name a few. However, for our frame of reference, we’ll be using the psychological definition- the context in which we view our world.

Every person has a frame. It encompasses our own identity, how we see ourselves in the world, how we structure the world in relation to ourselves, and how we relate to others. Some have fairly simple frames, and some are more complex. One person’s frame could be incredibly strong and resistant to external influence, and another’s could be weak, and easily reshaped by the frames of others. On top of all that, we may also have different frames for different situations- at work, with family, in relationships, and so on.

Your frame is, in some sense, your perception of yourself and your place in the world. If you have a low level of self-knowledge, you’re more likely to have multiple frames, as your personality is more situation-dependent. On the contrary, if you have a high degree of insight into the nature of Self, the number of frames you have approaches one. This is called ‘integration’- the degree to which we have integrated personalities is the degree to which we have overcome cognitive dissonance and internal conflicts.

The strength of your frame is based on your willpower, combined with one of two major things- insulation or foundation. A weak-willed person will have a weak frame, regardless of the external circumstances. A stiff breeze will blow right through them, and they don’t have a strong enough foundation to keep them anchored. However, a strong willed person can withstand the wind of external opinions, even if they aren’t build on a good foundation, but a flood can cause them to get carried away. No storm, however, can topple a strong willed person with a good foundation.

In the metaphor, the wind represents the influence of the outside world- the opinions of others. Our own willpower is constantly in conflict with the wills of others- a weak willed employee will cave in front of their strong willed boss, even if they’re right. A strong willed superior will dominate their subordinates, even if they’re wrong. Insulation is the degree to which we are capable of ignoring external forces- a well-insulated house stays warm in the coldest of weathers.

The foundation represents the degree to which we are in agreement with reality. If your frame is deeply rooted in being honest with yourself, you’re able to change when presented with conflicting evidence and withstand that which is not true- “the wind does not break a tree that bends.”

Because a truly strong person is comfortable with themselves, they are flexible- they can both keep out the negative winds and let in the beneficial ones. Someone who is stubborn, however, refuses to hear differing thoughts, and thus makes himself a fool when their foundation is separated from reality.

Before you would build a house, first find a suitable foundation- figure out how the world works and align yourself with it. Then, you can make plans- so long as your plans line up with the foundation you’ve chosen. After that, start building your frame- it will support everything you do afterwards. Only the fool builds a house on sand- only the fool tries to make reality agree with his opinions, rather than the other way around. With your foundation in reality, your will is rooted in strength and supported by the facts. You won’t have to walk into the storm because you will have the winds of Truth at your back.

First seek what is True, then build your frame on what you find.

Garrett Dailey

Garrett Dailey is a formerly homeless D.I.Y. philosopher who believes that one cannot understand the universe without first understanding themselves. To that end, he has committed to a lifelong journey to become the best version of himself, and in the process, create a community for others who wish to do the same. May we all be led from ignorance to the truth. Pros aion Aletheia aionios.

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