Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it. – Marianne Williamson
Reframe by definition means, “to look at, present, or think of in a new or different way or from a different perspective.” We can change the way we look at something and consequently change how we experience it. Reframing is not simply “positive thinking” – it is different. It is a technique to help view a behavior or situation in a more positive context that allows recognizing and appreciating positive aspects of the situation. The facts remain the same, but a deliberate shift is made in how we see it. Reframing helps us to use whatever life hands us as opportunities to be taken advantage of and live life more fully, rather than problems to be avoided.
Reframing a situation, idea, or belief can bring a fresh perspective. In illustration, this week Tami found herself at a dead standstill in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. All she wanted was to just get home. Ever been there? The stress started to rise, until she intentionally made the decision to reframe the situation. Rather than focusing on the sea of red brake lights, and viewing the traffic jam as a stressful “problem,” she reframed it as an “opportunity.” An opportunity to pause after a stressful day. An opportunity to catch the dramatic sunset you see in the picture below. And an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on her situation. “Problem” has a heavy quality to it, while “challenging” is energizing. Our energy can be affected by a simple change of word.
By the way, what do you see in the clouds? Many have shared that they see a Phoenix, the mythical, magical bird that lives for several hundred years before it dies and is reborn from the ashes, to start a new, long life. Such powerful symbolism. Could reframing help you to start a new life, so to speak, with a fresh perspective?
Reframing can even enable you to implement the ancient wisdom that says – you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can certainly control how you react to it. Beyond reframing a “problem” as an “opportunity” for change, here are a few other examples of reframing:
- A “weakness” as a “strength”
- A “demanding” person as an “assertive” person
- “Unkindness” as “lack of understanding”
- An “impossibility” as a “possibility”
In reflecting on clients we’ve worked with over the years, a multitude of times we’ve heard them reframe a diabetes diagnosis from a “problem” to an “opportunity.” An opportunity to eat healthy, be more active, or lose a few pounds. Some clients have new, close friends or even new jobs, because they have diabetes. Living with diabetes encouraged them to change their focus in life. Looking at life through a positive reframe certainly doesn’t mean ignoring the stress and pain that life may bring, but it does help deal with the challenges by seeing them in a different light and from a fresh perspective. It transforms a less than desirable situation into a worthy purpose. Reframing gives you an opportunity to neutralize negative feelings and be more action-oriented.
Reframing is a tool you already have in your tool belt. By implementing the powerful tool of reframing, we can find resources we didn’t realize we had, and continue to move forward becoming more resilient. We can be inspired to keep our attitude strong and hopeful. In closing, here are some characteristics of resilient people:
- Internal locus of control
- Sense of humor
We’ll revisit reframing in January, and how to use this tool to make New Year’s Solutions (rather than New Year’s Resolutions).