“Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become a character, the character becomes your destiny.” —Frank Outlaw
Let’s establish what re-framing means and provide clear and positive examples of this simple but effective way of lessening the intensity of a situation and one’s reactions.
It is not about changing what has or is happening – but it is about shifting from a negative to a more positive purview of exactly the same presenting situation. A re-frame is designed to assist in lightening up an emotional load and to help a person move from being stuck to being willing to entertain the possibility of positive change.
Re-framing can assist us in seeing through the lenses of today’s wisdom, knowledge, and experience – it can provide us with a more and healthier worldly overview.
In a manner of speaking it can raise your Eye-Q – to be able to see things through a different more positive and optimistic lens.
Loving states can be achieved when we choose to healthily re-frame some of the messages we carry around with us.
Our biggest fear is usually the fear of failure. The most used acronym for FAILURE is Found Another Important Lesson Upon Reviewing Experience. One way to re-frame that same thing is to review a perceived failure as being feedback or fuel for future reference.
Regardless of success or perceived failure, there is always a result – it is what you do with the result that counts. Just pose yourself the question: Are there any lessons that I can take away from this experience?
Part of the role of a counselor is to “Accentuate the ambivalence”. The use of re-framing can, in big part, assist a client see the dilemma more clearly and potentially recognize their choices and the possible 180 degrees difference in outcomes as a result.
As mentioned in the previous chapter re Family vs. Personal belief systems, we can take words such as love, trust, respect, choice, anger, friendship, money, alcohol, and drugs and re-frame what they can actually mean to us today, rather than continue to potentially be haunted by the memories of our earlier experiences and beliefs about them.
This can also be applied to all issues, even around major loss and change. The stages of grief – shock, protest, despair, and detachment – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The simple act of shifting from regular funeral service to a “celebration” of life will often provide a significant emotional shift and a lightening up of the energy that surrounds grief – without minimizing the loss or pain involved.
Knowing that we have this ability to voluntarily shift our perceptions is truly a gift but it requires awareness and observation and then the determination of which lens you’d prefer to see through on any given occasion or with any given incident. Shifting is not necessarily altering the outcome – but altering the outlook!
We can simply ask, “What is the downside of positive change?” If there is nothing to lose but the weight of the issue and the stress of your present purview or anticipatory anxiety, then the answer is obvious.
Many of my own clients talk about listening to their inner voice or “parts” of themselves (that urge them to drink or use drugs) and which they have named. Some have referred to them as the committee of assholes, rather like an unhealthy planning committee, the invited (or uninvited) guest, the unwelcome intruder, or the mocking bystander. The issue can become – how does one deal with such an internal presence and force?
A big part of my own mission and purpose of this book is to provide options and means to assist in cleaning and clearing old negative patterns and to help facilitate the reader to become a master manifestor of their authentic self and the benefits that will accompany such mastery.
I would recommend that, similar to any new business venture, you develop and define your own positive “Mission Statement” – this is a blueprint for who you want to be and what you want to do, including the purviews you wish to have on life and lessons learned. Chapter 12 on “Existential Questions” will provide further insight and questions to assist in defining your Mission Statement and can be added to and changed as the unfoldment of the authentic Self dictates.
One of the most helpful exercises for myself was to give me the added benefit of an “Inner Wellness Committee”. This committee can be called upon for their independent wisdom whenever we feel caught in a dilemma or bind and cannot seem to find a healthy solution or resolution to any given situation. This committee should be made up of say four or five people who you much admire (living or deceased) for their wisdom, experience, knowledge and humanity, and ability to see through the lenses of independent, expert observers. As an example, my own “Inner Wellness Committee” is made up of Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, my grandmother Rose Howell and a very dear friend named Charles Hayes – none of whom are still living – but each has had a major influence in my way of thinking and desire to emulate, in whatever ways I can.
Imagine your own personal inner wellness committee sitting at a round table hearing your question and going around the table responding and stating their perspectives and potential solutions and resolutions – note the responses you get from this exercise – it doesn’t mean you have to take their advice – but, bear in mind there is a reason you have sought the advice of the ages from those you consider wise and sensitive sages!
Let’s take a look at how some re-framing messages can be given by stating limiting beliefs in a different way. Some examples provided by Gary Craig (Emotional Freedom Technique) include:
- I can’t (I don’t yet know how)
- My problem (my challenge)
- I’m stressed (I could use a little peace right now)
- Breaking a habit (dissolving the need)
- I’m anxious (I need to redirect my energy)
- I’m exhausted (I need to refuel)
- I failed (I stubbed my toe this time)
- I’m lonely (It’s the quiet time right now)
- I’m lost (I’m looking for my next level)
- I’m nervous (I’m alert)
- I’m overwhelmed (I’m ready for a new perspective)
- I’ve been rejected (I’m given new input)
- Alternatively – He or she is just not into me or he or she doesn’t have the desired level of appreciation for me
- Cold calling (rapport practice)
- Closing a sale (welcoming someone aboard)
- I hate (I prefer something else)
- It’s terrible (It needs improvement)
- Diet (Developing new tastes)
- Angry (Peeved/Disenchanted)
- Overwhelmed (In demand)
- Irritated (Stimulated)
- Rejected (Misunderstood)
- Stupid (Discovering)
- Lost (Searching)
Some of my own favorite re-framing messages include:
- “I can choose peace instead of this.”
- “I am cordially invited to change my mind.”
- “I can choose to let go of feelings that hurt.”
- “I’m a fallible human being who has made mistakes in the past, is likely to make mistakes in the future, and is trying to learn from them now.”
- “Doing bad things makes me a person who has acted badly, but not a bad person.”
Even looking back on something like a nervous breakdown can be seen upon recovery and discovery as actually being a nervous breakthrough!
Another useful technique that helps in re-framing is to use “and so what?” at the end of questions in order to establish the realization that worry will accomplish nothing. Follow that answer with as many “and so what?” questions as needed to come to the point it is no longer such a big deal or a possible solution or resolution is arrived at. Remember – beyond worry is hope – it can even eventually put a laugh into the so-called problem.
Be grateful, stay fascinated and in awe, stay involved – and use language like “up until now” for whenever negative beliefs surface, as that is already letting the subconscious mind know that you realize this too shall pass and that you are now consciously response-able and no longer just reactive.
Part of the goal regarding re-framing is to be able to move from reacting to responding. Think in terms of the 5 R’s – relax, remind, rewind, rewire and recover.
To re-frame is to re-script and re-shape – to design your own blueprint.
Knowing from a clinical perspective that beliefs drive behavior and that behavior drives performance – one still has to watch out for the pull of the old and the fear of the new and work on awareness, observation, deliberate action, and maintenance until such time as our new norms become healthy, harmonious and habitual ways.
How will we know when we are there?
It will be when we stop investing in old stories. When we have gotten out of the cage of comfort and when we stop grieving for the person we could have been. This can assist us in attaining a state of grace, together with a sense of ease and air of elegance.
I would encourage you to check out the free Udemy online learning course entitled The Neuroscience of reframing and How to do it by Anette Prehn.