Shaky, by whom I mean Shakespeare, not Shakin’ Stevens once said “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
Before that, the philosopher Epictetus said that people are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.
Reframing is a feel good tool pioneered by one of the originators of neurolinguistic programming, Richard Bandler.
This can be found in two of his books with the original other originator, John Grinder, one called “Reframing” the other “Frogs Into Princes”. It is a powerful way of seeing the glass half full to enrich your life. So much is about how you internally perceive the outside world rather than what is actually seeming to be happening in the outside world.
Is my healthy glass of Pinot Noir half full or half empty?
A very old Chinese Taoist story describes a farmer in a poor country village. He was considered very well-to-do, because he owned a horse which he used for ploughing and for transportation. One day his horse ran away. All his neighbors exclaimed how terrible this was, but the farmer simply said “Maybe.”
A few days later the horse returned and brought two wild horses with it. The neighbors all rejoiced at his good fortune, but the farmer just said “Maybe.”
The next day the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses; the horse threw him and broke his leg. The neighbors all offered their sympathy for his misfortune, but the farmer again said “Maybe.”
The next week conscription officers came to the village to take young men for the army. They rejected the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. When the neighbors told him how lucky he was, the farmer replied “Maybe.” . . .
The meaning that any event has depends upon the “frame” in which we perceive it. When we change the frame, we change the meaning. Having two wild horses is a good thing until it is seen in the context of the son’s broken leg. The broken leg seems to be bad in the context of peaceful village life; but in the context of conscription and war, it suddenly becomes good.
This is called reframing: changing the frame in which a person perceives events in order to change the meaning. When the meaning changes, the person’s responses and behaviors also change. Because the original way hasn’t always been working out for you, has it?
One type is meaning reframing, an example Bandler gives was a woman who was a clean freak, obsessed that people messed up her perfect carpet, and becoming way overstressed about it.
Her therapist said “I want you to close your eyes and see your carpet, and see that there is not a single footprint on it anywhere. It’s clean and fluffy—not a mark anywhere.” This woman closed her eyes, and she was in seventh heaven, just smiling away. Then the therapist said “And realize fully that that means you are totally alone, and that the people you care for and love are nowhere around.” The woman’s expression shifted radically, and she felt terrible! Then the therapist said “Now, put a few footprints there and look at those footprints and know that the people you care most about in the world are nearby.” And then, of course, she felt good again. The alternative, attempting control all family and friends not to disturb the precious carpet had just not been working out, this reframe was much easier.
Another type is context reframing. For example, being stubborn can be judged to be bad in the context of family life. But could become very useful in the context of some lines of work or as a lady in the context of playing hard to get on a date. Whereas a man will be more attractive in a date if they lead and set the frame. Whereas in dating banter frame and blame is pretending to be offended that your date has said something naughty when they haven’t!
Why not feel good about your character traits- they are sure to serve a useful purpose in some situations.
Another example, Man: My wife takes forever to decide on things. She has to look at every dress in the store and compare them all before she selects one.
Therapist: So she’s very careful about decisions. Isn’t it a tremendous compliment that out of all the men in the world, she chose you!
Feel better about the things you cannot immediately change, you may as well!
Confused? Confusion is good because there is a chance of learning something new. That’s another reframe.
Let’s say you find you wake at 3am each night, and can’t get back to sleep again, and it’s annoying you.
Using the principles of the Serenity Prayer, you might apply wisdom to decide if your seeming insomnia can be cured with courage applying a solution. Is it related to drinking healthy Pinot Noir, do you need better sleep hygiene or help with your mental health? If it turns out to be none of these things, serenity about this characteristic is all that is left, can reframing give old serenity a boost? There may be a number of ways to reframe being awake at 3am as a useful thing. Ideally you should brainstorm and come up with at least a hundred, however wacky, a few to start off might be that your brain may give you some genuine issues at that time that do need sorting out, amongst the random nonsense, that it does not get a chance for you to think about at other times, there may be some tasks you can get done at that quiet time, it can be a time of great creativity when endogenous DMT is high, you may fall asleep into more vivid or even lucid dreams- the list goes on.
In the books Richard Bandler writes a lot about a six-step reframing model, if this has piqued your interest so far, why not check his books out?
The book “Framespotting” by Laurence and Alison Matthews has some interesting points:-
A frame is like a camera or computer screen where the view is zoomed in: it shows something in great detail, but it only shows part of the big picture. If you zoomed out, you’d see more of the picture.
So a strange thing can happen when you notice a frame, and then choose another frame instead. In one sense, it doesn’t change anything; but in another sense, it changes everything.
Looking at frames and peeping behind the scenes isn’t just interesting. It’s also useful to know about, because people can use framing against you.
Frames and mental pictures often come with an agenda. They can be used to manipulate and exploit you.
And unless you can see it going on, you won’t notice that you’re being hoodwinked.
Framing is often like this: someone, somewhere is getting away with something, in the sense of not being associated with the consequences.
Follow the money. Who benefits? The people who get away with things.
Framing is a way of limiting the debate, fixing the agenda. It’s like a Trojan horse, smuggling in hidden assumptions (and so ruling out alternative ways of looking at things). If the assumptions are hidden, you don’t question them because you don’t even see them. You’ll see them only if you zoom out.
Whatever the topic, zooming out can lead to lateral thinking; it encourages long-term thinking, and it can reveal new perspectives and powerful, deep stories.
Framing is blaming. And all too often, it’s blaming us.
If the rules of the game are stacked against us, then we need to change the game. Only then will we make progress.
Adaptation is like rearranging deck-chairs on a sinking ship instead of fixing the hole in the hull.