“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
I’ve been on a mission to de-clutter my house. Having lived and worked here for 30 years, stuff, useless junk, can be found in the dark corners of drawers, old file cabinets, and closets. On this mission, I have been finding lots of old frames, some with old pictures, some empty, and others are just broken. What the heck was I saving those for? As I was sorting through these frames, which came in all different shapes, sizes, colors and age (some of them seem like they have been around longer than me!) I realized how it was stimulating my coaching thoughts on reframing. So all last week and this, my coaching groups and individual clients have been looking at how they view things in their life, what needs to be reframed and how that process can stimulate opportunity versus negativity.
We give meaning to situations or our experiences based on how we view them, the frame we see them through. Oftentimes, this frame becomes a structural habit that we consistently go to or rely on for any given situation. We might notice ourselves consistently saying or doing the same thing, reacting the same way, because that’s how we have always framed it, learned from somewhere at some time that this view or reaction was acceptable, or worked for us in a given situation.
Giving ourselves permission or even gently pushing ourselves to give something a new meaning is an opportunity for growth, discovery, even less suffering, if that would possibly interest you. Imagine the possibilities, the greater understanding and meaning you might allow yourself to experience when you reframe. Innovation and creative thinking are all a result of being able to reframe a problem; in the boardroom, in relationships or in the beautiful places that can see the light of different thinking in your mind’s eye.
What I really love about reframing though, is the shift it creates in our neurochemistry. People that are able to reframe are often more resilient. Life is always going to throw us some curve balls. It’s not meant to be smooth sailing. Bouncing back after a major challenge, like an illness, financial crisis, or relationship blip is key to being able to get yourself back in the loop of life and figure out what decision will best serve you going forward. The more you lead your life from reframing, the more you will continue to use this as a strategy during rough patches. One of the frames I found was of a hand, and I decided to use this frame to ask people where they might need to ask for help. Another frame was of a heart. Where might they need to have more love or compassion towards a situation? The broken frame, well that needs to be tossed, it certainly isn’t useful anymore, and I’ll be glad to get rid of that one.
In the field of positive psychology, author Martin Seligman notes that “people who were more realistic (i.e., less optimistic) were accurate in their assessments of objective reality but were less happy and did not live as long as people who chose to be optimistic. Often people who are great optimistic reframers are discredited as being Pollyannaish and criticized for being naïve. While the accusations may be "true" in a sense, it would appear the Pollyanna and naïve perceptions are actually more life-sustaining than those of the realist. “
My grandson Lev, who just turned 5, is great at reframing. He and I have started using the well-known saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” We (I am usually a Lego assistant) use this reframing mindset many times when he is creating the most complicated Lego idea that he has seen in his mind’s eye. Just when he puts on the last piece, or so it seems, several pieces break off dismantling his vision. But he gets right back at it. I love seeing this resilience in him at such a young age.
Reframing gives me hope, not just with my grandson, but, with all people. I am reminded that it’s what drew me to coaching. I see that there is possibility, and my intention is for others to see that as well, if they’re ready for that. I do believe that seeing life through a new lens creates more opportunity to be happy, less attached to a situation or outcome, so that we do not become our problem. We are all much more than that