The life-changing power of Reframing

The life-changing power of Reframing

I am no art critic nor collector, but I know that choosing a frame for a piece of art can make a big difference to how that picture ends up looking when placed on the wall. The frame can add depth to an image or be so totally ornate and bling that it detracts from the actual image in the frame. The concept of reframing thoughts, feelings, people, ourselves, situations or relationships is a useful strategy that we can use in our lives and particularly as we show up as parents to our kids cause reframing can help us see things in a whole new light. And a whole new light can be a very good thing!


What is Reframing?

Reframing is a technique that is used in different disciplines such as coaching, counselling, therapy and marketing. However it is a useful technique that we can use effectively in our day to day lives when we are aware of what it is and we are switched on to the possibilities it can offer us. Reframing something allows us the opportunity to see things from a different perspective and sometimes seeing things from a different perspective can help us move forward in a potentially more positive way. So, for example our child may be behaving in a negative way, being extremely rude to us and we may want to come down on them like a ton of bricks and feel that they are disgusting human beings and we have utterly failed as parents. This perspective digs deep into negativity, judgment, accusations and stuckness. If we shift our viewpoint, we may be able to see that their beahviour is stemming from somewhere. It would be helpful to be curious and understand what is happening behind the scenes for them so that we can respond in both an empathic and boundaried way that can perhaps support and shift things forward rather than adding fuel to the fire.


What reframing is not!

· Easy

If only reframing were a simple and easy manoeuvre but let’s not kid – it is not. We need to recognise that seeing things from a different perspective is often a challenging task and may take some very conscious hard work. Sometimes it may mean getting help from a professional who can assist us in understanding where our perspective comes from and how we have arrived there.


· Toxic positivity

Reframing things does not mean a denial of either our felt or practical reality. It does not mean just shoving on those rose-tinted glasses and pressing the denial switch and just being positive and upbeat no matter what the circumstances. Seeing things from a different perspective may very much include acknowledging how challenging the current circumstances are and should never be about denying or diminishing that reality. For example, saying to someone who has just lost their job “everything happens for a reason” can be diminishing of the felt reality that this stressor brings.

Why reframing can be helpful

· It can help get us unstuck

When we continuously see things from one perspective, we can generally push play and repeat for how we treat ourselves and others in our repeated patterned ways. But when we look at things in a different way, it can give us the option to move forward in a new way. And what a relief that can be!

We can ask ourselves or others “what would this look like if I allowed myself to make this change?”


· It allows us to generate options

So often we think that there really is only one way to see or do things but when we open ourselves up to reframing things, we are able to come up with different ways of understanding or problem solving challenging things. Generating options from the ridiculous to the feasible opens our minds and hearts to options we may never have considered, and this can be both useful and liberating.

We can ask ourselves or others, “ What other possible ways are there of thinking about this even if I don’t like them or agree with them?”


· It can help us react differently

When we open ourselves to reframing things, we open the possibility of reacting differently from how we usually do. One of the most empowering things we have in our lives is choosing how to respond to something. Often things trigger us in predictable ways but knowing there are other perspectives to be had empowers us with the option of reacting differently and allowing for real growth and change.

We can ask ourselves or others, “ What can I do to provide a buffer between a triggering stimulus and my usual response?”


· It can help to energise us

When we are confronted with challenging feelings, people or circumstances our energy is often severely depleted and we feel we cannot act, we cannot move forward. Opening ourselves to a different perspective can help to energise us so that we are better equipped to move through difficult times in a resilient way.

We can ask ourselves or others, “What is one small thing I could do about this, just one thing.”


· It can increase empathy

When we can help ourselves or others reframe something, we increase the possibility of empathy and empathy in turn helps us to get better at reframing things. Empathy allows us to reflect on what other’s emotions are and what they may be feeling or thinking. It does not mean we have to agree with them, but it helps us understand better and therefore respond better.

We can ask ourselves or others, “What possible feelings are behind their behaviours.”

Putting a different frame on things can really help us to see things from a different vantage point. We are all humans trying to make sense of things and show up in the best way possible. Knowing that we can reframe our perspectives is a positive and powerful thing.

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