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The Art of Reframing

I shared a post on Facebook a month ago with a picture of scales and a quote underneath saying:

“This scale will only tell you the numerical value of your gravitational pull. It will not tell you how beautiful you are, how much your friends and family love you, or how amazing you are.”

By @allygawrys

I was glad I shared it because people enjoyed the way the perception of scales had being reframed. Reframing a situation is like when you put a different frame around a picture and the new frame makes the picture appear different. You look at the situation from a different perspective and get a different meaning. Reframing is useful when you feel stuck and can’t seem to change your perception of a situation. Reframing helps you see things differently and come to a different conclusion. It isn’t about pretending everything is positive and wonderful. It’s about providing a variety of ways to consider a problem and finding an easier solution.

There are some key principles to understand when reframing a situation:

1. We give situations meaning based on how we have interpreted it, when in actual fact the situation has no meaning. It is just an event.

2. Every thought has a hidden “frame” behind it. The frame is based on your underlying beliefs and values. For example watching a mother clip her child around the ear. One person might perceive that as appropriate based on their belief of disciplining children. Another person might be horrified based on their belief of nurturing children.

It takes practice, patience and skill for a person to frame and reframe pictures. It’s similar when we reframe situations in our daily life. At first we may struggle to find frames that can make a situation appear different. We want to keep it in its current frame; it can seem too hard to change it. However, with practice the skill of reframing is enhanced and we begin to get better at making a range of situations we experience in life appear different, distinctive and even at times beautiful.

Action steps:

1. Identify a negative situation.

2. Take a step back from the situation and look at the whole picture.

3. Reframe the situation by making the wording milder, ignoring some words and downplaying certain aspects of the situation. Ask questions like:

  • I know I don’t know, but what if I did know?

  • Does the problem really lie in the task, or the way I feel about the task?

  • How can I more easily do this?

  • What can I learn from this?

  • What would (insert person you admire here) do in this situation?

  • What would I do now if I knew I couldn’t fail?

Examples of reframes:

“I made a real mess of that situation” reframed to “I did my best with the knowledge and resources I had at the time and I was able to learn a few things from that situation.”

“She made me so angry when she said that” reframed to “I chose to let that person wind me up.”

Something to think about...

"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible.' "

- Audrey Hepburn

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