We attach meaning to everything we experience by adding a frame of reference.
For instance, what if someone you work with didn’t speak with you all day? What would you think was happening – what ‘frame’ would you put around that experience? It’s possible you would decide they were upset or angry with you in some way, and that belief could cause you to feel anxious and worried.
What else might be going on? Might they have a tight deadline and be too busy to chat? Might they be feeling unwell? If the person is senior to you, could they be leaving you space to get on with your own work trusting that you don’t need their input?
A rainy day during your holiday might have you attaching the meaning that you ‘won’t have any fun today’. But what else could it mean? Perhaps that you will finally visit the art gallery you’ve passed a few times and never been into or that you can settle down with a book you have been meaning to read.
We have internal fames as well – ‘I always get worried before I have to go on a long car journey’. Could it be that you are a careful and responsible driver who likes to plan a long journey well in advance?
Once you’ve shifted to another frame, and consequently changed your perception of the situation, it’s meaning also changes and you will find that the thoughts and emotions you experience also change. This is called re-framing.
Reframing is used to change the meaning of a negative experience into something more positive, and allows us to choose how we respond to an experience.
So how can we do this?
All the time that we re-frame our experiences we are becoming more resourceful in our thinking. We are able to choose how we react, empowering ourselves to overcome old out of date reactions that might not be useful.
We can loosen a rigid view of the world, recognise alternatives, revise our internal and external attitudes and become more creative and flexible in our thinking.
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