The human mind works in mysterious ways. Our minds construct our impressions, which can manifest as fact and influence our behavior. Our illusions can produce a mirage effect, leading us to believe that our negative thoughts, prejudices, self-doubts, and fears are true. This belief can lead to a state of inactivity, fear of exchange, excessive inhibitions, and an inability to be action oriented.

Do you ever have thoughts like, “Why is life treating me so badly?” “I’m jinxed and will never succeed,” “Something must be wrong with me,” “I’m just unlucky,” and so on? You’re not on your own! These kinds of thoughts are prevalent and common around the world. This is where Reframing our thoughts can help us overcome our difficulties. 

What is Reframing?

Reframing is a method of looking at a situation, person, or relationship from a different perspective. It assists in transforming a negative experience into a constructive one.It helps our minds become more agile by allowing us to look at a problem from different perspectives.The paradigm shift has the power to change everything. Reframing is a great technique for breaking out of a rut. It’s the ability to control your inner critic or voice. 

“A reframe is not about telling yourself that your fear is wrong. Reframes are about finding another way to look at the possibilities of your life.”

Rebecca K. Sampson

As a coach, I find the reframing technique extremely useful, and it always leads to breakthroughs during coaching discussions. It’s important to note that reframing doesn’t imply ignoring or avoiding the problem; rather, it implies embracing it and devising new ways to fix it. Some questions that have worked well for me are: What went right?, What was positive in the situation?, What information is this situation presenting to me?  Such questions have hidden nuggets which can steer you to the optimal outcomes you desire.

How can you use Reframing techniques?

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) there are a few  prominent reframing methods that a Coach can use to help their coachee resolve their concerns, circumstances and challenges. Examining the suppositions and beliefs is a good way to help you examine, rethink and reframe. Horacio Jones’s quote is spot on when he says, “Instead of saying, “I’m damaged, I’m broken, I have trust issues” say “I’m healing, I’m rediscovering myself, I’m starting over.”  Asking open ended powerful questions such as ‘How might you look at this differently?’ Or ‘What positive outcomes could this create?’ can open up new ways of seeing things and can metamorphosize your possibilities!  

Sometimes the process can be as simple as rewording your thoughts. For example, if I am overly concerned about a presentation and believe that things could go wrong, I could negotiate my thoughts to be more positive and think of the possible outcomes. I could then use this awareness  to look for triggers and  prepare ahead on how to steer the discussion in the direction I want the attendees to take. In a nutshell, you want to accurately understand your ability to cope with an event even before it occurs. 

Content vs. Context reframing 

The basic concept behind reframing is that your point of view is determined by the frame in which you view a situation. Marianne Williamson rightly stated that  “Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it.” In NLP  you could use two types of reframing techniques – Content reframing and Context reframing to resolve your challenges. 

Content Reframing happens when the content  of a situation is determined by what you want to focus on. An unexpected snowstorm that creates traffic congestion and a delayed start to school can be deemed as disruption, forcing you to alter your plans. It can also be seen as an opportunity to enjoy a proper breakfast with your family while also having some fun in the snow!

Context Reframing happens when you shift the problem to a different position where it no longer has the same significance. In a context reframe,the meaning remains the same but the context changes. A simple context reframe question could be ‘Where would this behaviour be useful? For instance if a person is checking his/her phone constantly during a meeting, it can be perceived negatively, but the same act may be acceptable in a bus or in the park.

Ok this sounds great but does it actually work?

It definitely does! Reframing is an NLP technique that fits well with other coaching methods and is easy to implement. During a recent Career Coaching discussion, I discovered that my coachee, who was preparing for a job interview, had low faith, was highly anxious, and was questioning whether or not she should even go to the interview.

The irony was that she was well suited for the job and had the requisite qualifications  and hands-on experience, but she lacked the official designation/title. As the coaching discussion progressed, I noticed she was making some very strong assumptions 

I used Reframing strategies to help her explore other ways to see this situation. I asked her to probe into why she was making these assumptions or unhelpful beliefs and question them.  I asked my coachee to consider what previous successes could be applicable in this case. And it was because of this that my coachee began to think, and a breakthrough occurred! She’d worked on a few high-profile projects with challenging clients, and she was able to draw on those experiences to craft her story. This sparked a more in-depth conversation about how she should present herself as the right candidate for the job. She told me later that week that she had been selected and had received an offer letter.

How can you benefit from Reframing?

Reframing enables us to see challenges as opportunities to resolve them rather than ignoring or avoiding them. As a result, our prevailing attitude changes, so do our experiences. Our mental state becomes more positive because of cognitive reframing. This process is a way of changing the way you look at something and consequently changing the way you think and feel about it.

Reframing gives you the power to control your reactions – no matter what your situation is. When we transform our breakdowns into opportunities for life we are less likely to be consumed by moods of pessimism, hopelessness, or resentment. 

Closing thoughts…

The truth is that “You Can’t Always Control What Happens, But You Can Control How You React”. It can help bring positivity and optimism to your life and help you to see the ‘Art of the possible’. In order to use reframing effectively, we must obtain a new perspective, i.e. an understanding that gives us a new kind of appreciation for our situation. 

Do you feel that you are stuck? Would you like to get unstuck? As an NLP Coach, I am happy to help you reframe any challenge or problem you are facing. Please reach out to book a coaching session with me!