“When you change the way you see things, the things you see change” is one of my favourite quotes ever, I have mentioned it in another post on my blog. This quote reflects the fact that reality is subjective, different for everyone because everyone has different life experiences and a different point of view. We all filter reality based on our life experiences and beliefs that we may have picked up from our parents or teachers.
If we outwardly argue with person about their view of reality we will often find that they take offence and rather than adopting the style of thinking we want or think they should adopt they will probably argue themselves deeper into their current belief and thinking patterns. Reframes can be used to move a person from one mental state or opinion to another, they are very effective conversational change techniques that we can covertly use on clients, family, friends and even on ourselves.
“To reframe, then, means to change the conceptual and/or emotional setting or viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and to place it in another frame which fits the ‘facts’ of the same concrete situation equally well or even better, and thereby changing its entire meaning.” – Gentle Art of Reframing.
Reframing occurs all the time regardless of therapy the frame provides context for thoughts and actions, something you do in one situation can have a completely different meaning and context when you do it in another. Reframes can be used in therapy and when done effectively they can turn problems into opportunities, bad habits into desirable assets, weaknesses can become strengths and impossibilities can become achievable goals.
Some peoples view of NLP itself offers us a reframe example; people hear about how NLP is used by politicians and advertising agencies to influence peoples beliefs and decisions they then assume NLP is evil. This belief could be used to create a powerful reframe such as, “NLP is used by politicians and advertising agencies because it offers powerful techniques that can be used to influence people and this shows how effective it can be in therapy and in creating positive beliefs.”
Different Types of Frame
Knowing a few different types of frame can help us to reframe more effectively, below are a couple of different types of frame that could be beneficial to know when creating and using reframes:
The Outcome Frame
This frame can be used by practitioners to evaluate events in the light of desired outcomes or goals that they may have set for clients or their self. When we create goals they should meet the S.M.A.R.T criteria that I have written about here.
Black or White Thinking
Black or white, all or nothing and win or lose thinking styles are all very similar, in psychology these thinking styles are called “splitting”. Black and white thinking could prevent someone from being successful, it can affect relationships, in extremes, it can be a symptom of mental illness. We are all guilty of thinking of situations in all or nothing terms at some time or another, it’s good to remember that situations are never just black or white. It is with this thinking style that reframes can be most effective.