The Incredible Power of Reframing
You walk into your bosses office with a lump in your throat. You know that he has found out you were doing research for your own online business you have wanted to start for months, on company time.
You also know this is strictly against company policy and you know the the chances are he’s going to fire you.
Ten minutes later with your worst fears realized you’re clearing your desk and your stomach is churning with anxiety and the nausea is welling in your throat.
What are you going to do?
The phone call comes completely out of the blue and shakes you to your core.
It is from the wife of your current boyfriend screaming obscenities down the line at you.
You feel physically sick.
How were you to know he was married? Why was he even using online dating if that was the case? The low life.
How do you react?
You know deep down it isn’t wise, but you’ve had a few drinks and the wall couldn’t be more than four feet tall.
With your equally drunk friends urging you on, you sprint flat out at the wall and attempt to vault it like you knew you could have done back in your collage track days when you ran the high hurdles.
Your trailing leg catches the top of the wall and you land rather unceremoniously on you right arm.
You hear the crack and immediately know you have broken your arm. Even the alcohol doesn’t numb the excruciating pain.
Is This A Terrible Event Or A Catalyst?
All of the above are examples of terrible events happening to people on any given day, right?
It’s likely that if any were you you would be cursing your lack of judgment and probably wallowing in self pity for a period of time.
But the reality is we have no way of knowing how bad a situation is at the time.
We have all had things happen to us that we thought were ‘catastrophic’ when they happened and turned out to be life changing events for the better.
Did you know that a great many people who recover from cancer are grateful that they went through the disease because they think it made them a stronger person?
If you can acknowledge cancer as a life affirming event, what can’t be viewed that way?
So why do most people immediately assume the worst?
Reframing and Cognitive Reappraisal
There is a technique used in coaching called reframing (it’s also called cognitive reappraisal in therapy and it the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT).
It’s probably the most powerful tool in self development and one I highly advise you practice and practice until it becomes almost part of your DNA.
Reframing allows us to take control of how we view a situation. It’s not positive thinking (or at least not in the traditional sense) because we never change the events themselves (that would be delusional), just the way we view them.
If I were to take you favorite picture and put a hideous gold and purple frame studded with fake diamonds round it, it’s going to effect the way you view your previous favorite piece of art.
Yet I haven’t actually touched the painting, just reframed it.
You can do this with literally any event in your life, and I do mean any event this side of your own death.
I reframed the death of my dad who I adored, by being thankful that he wasn’t in pain for long and that I was lucky enough to have him in my life for over 40 years.
In the first story above, you sure can wallow and worry about being out of work.
Or you can see it as a huge opportunity to pour all your efforts into starting your own business on your own terms.
It’s either a disaster that will drag you down or a massive opportunity that will fire you up depending on how you frame your view point.
Spotting The Opportunity In The Negative
Finding out you boyfriend is married certainly sucks, but hey, maybe it means a guy that’s even better suited for you is just around the corner and you would have missed him otherwise.
Four weeks with your arm in plaster isn’t fun, but perhaps it gives you some ‘you’ time. Maybe you can read those books you’ve been meaning to catch up on, or learn to meditate which is a skill that will serve you a life time.
Just before I became a full time coach back in 2005 I was told I had been given a job.
It was very high paid in IT sales and would represent the culmination of something I had been working towards for ten years.
After I chose my car and started negotiating with HR I had to go for a meeting with the CEO.
To this day I have no idea what I did wrong or what happened, but the job offer was rescinded.
I was devastated and not ashamed to admit almost in tears when I got the phone call.
I didn’t know what reframing was in those days and I held my own personal pity party for the next two weeks or more.
Well guess what? It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It pushed me into reassessing what I really wanted to do with my life and I realized it really wasn’t sales.
If that meeting had gone well I wouldn’t have become a Life Coach and I’d probably be stressed senseless as I always had been in sales.
If only I’d known about reframing I could have saved myself two weeks or more of inaction and feeling sorry for myself.
What’s causing you mental anguish at the moment that may be you could reframe? I’d love to hear in the comments.