A vivid illustration of the art of reframing would be the popular saying you probably grew up hearing: “When life gives you lemons make lemonade.” That’s a great way of thinking about reframing.
An Example of Reframing
Keisha had been working for her company full-time for almost a decade. But under the new management, she was moved from full-time hours to part-time work. At first, she was very angry about the change. Then a friend challenged her to look at what this would add to her life. Keisha was delighted to discover it could actually mean more free time. She’d always dreamed of going back to school to finish her college education. Her employer even had a tuition reimbursement program that part time employes qualified for. So not only was Keisha able to go back to school to finish her college coursework, her company would foot the lion’s share of the costs. By thinking it through from a positive point of view, Keisha was able to reframe a negative situation into a positive one. Suddenly she found herself in a win win situation.
What Is Reframing?
The definition of reframing is simply to put something into a different frame. Have you ever noticed how putting a favorite photo, picture, or painting in a new frame can bring out certain colors in the piece? The right frame can give it a whole new look, and even change the overall energy or style of the room where it’s displayed.
The same is true for your attitude in life. You can’t always control what circumstances that happen to you or what actions other people take that impact you. But you can control your attitude and outlook and adjust it so that you can turn every situation into a beautiful advantage.
Why Does Reframing Matter?
Reframing allows you to take back your power. When you’re not focused on actively reframing situations through a positive attitude, you can become a victim in your own life story. But with reframing, you shift from the victim to the one in the driver’s seat. (Yes Queen!!)
It’s true you don’t always get a choice in what happens to you, but you do get to choose which lens you view your life through. If you want to, you can choose to view it from a positive standpoint and look for the good. This can open up new opportunities and show you possibilities that you may have only dreamed of before.
3 Go To Strategies for Reframing
- Try Redefining the Problem as a Challenge: It is amazing how words impact our brain and emotions. The word, problem, brings with it a host of unpleasant negative thoughts and emotions that can take us down a rabbit hole and land us face forward into a rut. Whereby the word challenge, can actually invigorate us, bringing hope and strategies that can cause our creativity to come alive.
- Pause and Reflect: Give yourself an opportunity to take a break from the “problem” at hand so you can actually think deeper. Do you know anyone personally or not so personally who may have overcome a similar setback? What did they do? How did they handle their negative emotions? How did they rise above it? Can you be inspired by their story? When we pause and reflect when can step outside of ourselves and find hope, inspiration and wisdom.
- Try talking to a friend or relative who practices the art of reframing: For years, I had developed this habit of reframing. It was like a knee jerk reaction whenever I heard someone struggling who needed encouragement. What I didn’t realize was that my young adult children were observing some of these conversations over the years. Not to mention the thousands of times that I had encouraged them. Well, recently I was faced with certain challenges that I shared with them. I heard the same advice coming right back at me. Even my 19 year old son would tell me: “Mom you got this, this isn’t too hard for you”. I was both shocked (slightly horrified..to be honest) and proud at the same time. They had learned the art of reframing. Now when certain challenges arise in my own life, I have a posse who can help me through. I didn’t even see that coming. We all have someone within our immediate circle of relationships that can help us reframe when we can’t seem to do it on our own. That’s what Keisha (above) did and you can do it too.
What Situations Do You Need to Reframe?
It’s time to take a hard look at your life—both personally and professionally. What’s going on that you’ve been dragging a negative attitude into? Where have you been accepting an outlook of discouragement and defeat?
If you’re struggling to know which situations you need to reframe, think about the ones that keep surfacing. When you call your best friend, what do you constantly complain about. Maybe it’s something that you analyze it repeatedly. Maybe you were wronged.Maybe you were maligned. Maybe you did deserve better. Maybe they really were out to get you.
But the deeper question here is: are you going to let these situations define you or are you going to find a way to reframe and rise above them? Because the truth is you can let yourself be a whiner or a warrior—it’s all in how you frame it.
When you master the power of reframing, it can over time cause you to be a more resilient version of yourself. Reframing requires us to “see” our circumstances in a new light. It’s not denial, it is optimism that at the end of the day everything will be alright.
Be well + prosper