In my work as a coach, I talk a lot about reframing: the art of looking at a problem from a new (more helpful) point of view.
So many of our problems are actually made worse by the way we think about them.
But that’s not surprising! After all, no one teaches us how to think. We go to school to learn but learning is only one part of how our brain works.
I believe our brain to be an extremely high-tech piece of technology–that very few of us have the keys for!
Instead, we simply think by default–which allows us to get stuck in negative feelings way more often than necessary.
If there was one element that could affect so much in your life, wouldn’t you want to learn more about it?
This is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about mindset and self-coaching work. We really do manifest what we think is possible–and the limitations we have created for ourselves are our biggest manifestation blocks.
Healing old small-t traumas and limiting beliefs is an important way to move past those blocks.
But so is simply shifting the way you see the world.
As A Course In Miracles states: when you shift the way you see the world, the world you see changes.
Or in other words: shifting your perspective causes miracles.
Are you ready for your miracle?
Reframing is a powerful way to take you from a place of fear or lack and scarcity to seeing potential, possibilities, and most importantly, love.
If you’re ready to get started, then keep reading:
3 Reframing Examples
If we don’t examine and challenge our own thinking, we’ll just keep on thinking about life in the same way we always have (and living the results we’ve always experienced). So it’s important to notice the limiting thoughts.
Here are three common examples and how to reframe them.
“This always happens to me”
Human brains just LOVE black or white thinking. Right or wrong, good or bad, we simply want to know where we stand (ie. on the right side).
But the world isn’t so straightforward.
Anytime you’re using an absolute term like “always” or “never”, you’re (A) wrong and (B) making yourself feel powerless or terrible about something you really don’t need to.
While it’s tempting to think this way, it’s also the quickest way to give our power away. After all, why bother trying if it always goes wrong?
While black or white thinking seems obvious at the moment, leave yourself some room for possibility. Is “always” or “never” really true? What was a time when this didn’t happen? There’s always an exception to the rule. The more you see those exceptions the better! So stay curious and open.
“They always do this”
Black or white thinking is not just toxic when we use it on ourselves. This type of thinking is also toxic to our closest relationships.
When you apply an always or never statement to your partner, you’re setting yourself up for a battle. Your partner is going to want to “fight” back to prove that the all-or-nothing statement isn’t true. (And it isn’t!)
But when both parties’ egos are activated and in a battle for being “right”, everyone ultimately loses. Even the person who “wins” this battle will ultimately suffer because of the distance in intimacy they are creating.
There’s always a way to bring up your concerns without resorting to the words “always” or “never”. Try to stick to the problem at hand and don’t let it color more than it needs to. Or as Esther Perel says, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”
Sometimes we have to let go of our ego’s need to be right. We need to let go of judgment and take our partner or friend at face value for the common good.
“I can’t afford it”
This one might seem completely obvious. “There’s no money in my bank account so it must be true!” But is it really?
Think about it this way: a broke drug addict always finds a way to pay for their drugs. They don’t have the money but they figure out a way to make it happen. That’s a grim example but in truth, we all do this when we’re motivated enough. (Think: buying the cool shoes when you were in high school, etc.)
Sure, you might not have the money right now. But you also have the power to make the money happen if you want it badly enough.
A great way to reframe this one is: “That’s not my priority right now” which is true. Don’t blame the money! Always take responsibility for what you want or don’t want. (This is empowering far beyond the category of money by the way!)
Why Should You Reframe?
Have you ever felt stuck or powerless? Or perhaps you have a repeating (negative) situation that you can’t quite move past.
Reframing creates a different perspective, which is helpful for learning, making decisions, and solving problems. Basically, you’re never as stuck or powerless as you think you are. You simply need to shift paradigms to find the answers–and shifting your thoughts is the way to do that.
As someone who used to live in a perpetual victim state, I know this to be true! I’ve experienced the difference between that hopelessness and feeling powerful and I know that the second one feels so much better.
Rules For Reframing:
Those three reframing examples should already give you an idea of what to look for within your own mind. But here are some additional “rules” to follow to help you reframe any situation and get unstuck:
Reframing Rule #1:
Separate the Facts vs Stories
Take your assumptions out of the situation as fast as possible. What are the facts here? Now, what are you making assumptions about? Simply being able to see how much your own mind has projected onto the situation is always a great reality check.
Reframing Rule #2:
Look For Alternate Meanings: What Else Could This Person/Situation Mean?
Again, your brain has rushed to fill in the blanks. But just because you see things a certain way, doesn’t mean you’re right about everything! Always ask: what else could be true?
Reframing Rule #3:
Watch Out for Black or White Thinking
Absolutes like “always” or “never” are not only untrue but also leave very little room for solutions. The world really isn’t as black and white as we might be tempted to think. Good people make mistakes, including ourselves.
Reframing Rule #4:
Always Assume Good Intention
When we’re upset, it’s too easy to make negative assumptions. But the people we really care about are rarely out to get us or trying to hurt us. So your friend forgot to text back or your boyfriend stayed late at work without telling you. Don’t jump to assume the worst! If their intentions were good, what would else could be true?
Reframing Rule #5:
What’s the Lesson?
If there was something to learn from the problem at hand, what would that be? Truth is: we’re always gathering information. Even the “negative” information can give us valuable guidance on what to do next, whether that’s not dating the next pile of Red Flags or how not to react when your partner does something you don’t like.
Remember: you are more powerful than you think! Switching up the way you see the world will give you some of that power back. No need to feel stuck or helpless. Just come back to this reframing guide for a refresher and some pointers whenever you need it.
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