Joey and the Rocket

Reframing is the psyche’s transformative magical fairy dust. The mind often grabs hold of a concept, attaches the darkest of emotions, then cycles on a thought loop to pound a scary, hurt, rejected, fatalistic, or overwhelming beat into our psyches like a drum. Just like a song can get trapped in our heads, relentlessly tormenting a day, these destructive thoughts torment consciously and subconsciously. These thoughts manifest as feelings and mood, thus having tremendous power over our overall quality of life.

Let’s learn a lesson from Joey. 

Each time Nanette pulls out the vacuum, Joey’s 4 year old heart races. As his mother pushes the power button, bringing the vacuum roaring to life, he dashes past in terror, running towards the furthest closet to burrow his way into the farthest corner to hide. The sounds of the vacuum terrify. Few things in our homes make such an awful sound. That loud dirt and dust-sucking machine is as big, if not bigger than a 4 year old, too. We can empathize with Joey’s reasonable fear. Nanette tries to mindfully vacuum when Joey isn’t home, trying to avoid this fearful reaction in her son and her own feelings of guilt and powerlessness as a mother who cannot figure out a better way each time her heart breaks seeing her little guy panic. 

Nothing will muffle the sound of a vacuum. And it seems the sound is most, if not all, of the problem, right? Well, yes. So, what to do? What would your parents have done? Many want to convince the child it is ridiculous to be scared of something like a vacuum, essentially and accidentally shaming the child’s age-appropriate reasonable reaction, invalidating their feelings and process. Trying to force an adult perspective on a small child is unwise and unkind. We are the grown-ups, after-all, and have the brain power and experience to understand and work within the child’s point of view, though it make take some ingenuity. 

Time for magic fairy dust reframing! With some creative ingenuity, and a Momma who cared more about her child’s wellbeing than how her appliance appeared, we decided to transform the vacuum. Nanette purchased some themed stickers, and engaged Joey in a therapeutic project. Operation Magic Rocket was in progress! Joey really liked this idea! He was able to take his emotional power back from this appliance by creating the rocket himself with space stickers covering the vacuum. Rocket noises are cool. The fear melted away. Added bonus? Guess who begged to use the rocket after it’s transformation? And a single mother had a chore taken off of her list. Double win! All from the magic fairy dust of reframing. 

It is natural to focus on the problem and try to fix it. Laser focus on the problem would not have lead to a solution for Joey and Nanette. There is no fixing the loud obnoxious roar of a vacuum. Only stepping back from the problem at hand allowed the possibility of a reframe, leading to soultion. It seemed as though Joey’s issue was fear of the sound. In reality, it was Joey’s perception of the scariness of the sound that frightened him. Any adult trying to convince him otherwise would have failed! We worked with his perception and reframed what had been fearful to something mystical, interesting, playful, and cool. And, like magic, fear evaporated immediately. 

Whatever you are going through, healthy reframes are waiting, even when you cannot see another way. Remember the lesson of Joey and the Rocket. I wonder where and how you might sprinkle this magical reframing fairy dust in your life? Yes, even very serious, heart wrenching, issues benefit from reframes. Anyone who has ever been diagnosed with a terminal illness and chosen to live out their days with exuberance and life has successfully reframed from the depressing sentiment ‘I’m going to die sooner than I’m ready,’ to the life affirming ‘I will live more fully in each day than I ever have before.’ 


Thank you, and many happy reframes! 

Nikki Eisenhauer

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Nikki Eisenhauer