A great “reframe” is powerful and can change everything for someone.
We all see the world around us a certain way; which is developed over time and through a variety of experiences. We hold beliefs and values and attach meaning to everything based on them. We develop a “frame,” or mental structure that helps us organize and make sense of the world around us.
Sometimes the way we see things is inaccurate and not a clear representation of reality. Sometimes the way we see things is unnecessarily negative and we carry around an angry attitude, a grudge, a complete misunderstanding. When that happens, those negative thoughts keep a hold on us that is really hard to shake off, sometimes impossible.
When we step back and look at an event, a conversation, a situation and reframe it we are creating another way to see and experience that same circumstance. Challenging your own frame can be an excellent exercise to personal growth and improving your relationships.
Yesterday was my neighborhood’s annual 4th of July block party. It was really fun and I got to meet some new neighbors and spend more time with those I already know. One couple just moved to our block recently. We were at the food table and she said, “You all are going to hate us because we are adding a room over the garage.” I knew what she meant, but I absolutely didn’t see it that way, at all!
When there’s new construction and changes to a home in the neighborhood, what’s the easiest thing to do? Complain! Why? Well, because all that noise is so disruptive, all those trucks in and out block parts of our street, all the building materials are messy looking. Sure, that’s true, I guess. So, everyday until the project is complete just complain about it. Then when the project is done, feel relief, but still be upset at the people for all that disruption they caused. Or…
Consider another way to see it. Reframe that whole thing.
Here’s what I said to my new neighbor. “You know, I don’t see it that way. Instead of being annoyed, I think, ‘That’s wonderful they are adding on to their home. I’m excited for them. I bet it’s going to look great.’ Just reframe that and see it another way.”
It’s that easy.
The benefit is, I’m not aggravated and I can share in the excitement with my neighbors who are creating their new home. And every time I walk the dog or drive past their home I can eagerly anticipate seeing their progress. Why would I not want to welcome them to the neighborhood warmly and rejoice with them as they move through the project.
What’s the alternative? Being grumpy? Starting a new relationship off on the wrong foot…or never developing the relationship in the first place? No thanks! I much prefer to be excited with others and celebrate what’s going on in their lives. (It’s not always about me, despite what I might tell myself.)
I’d want the same. Wouldn’t you?
As I write this post, I hear a very loud chain saw next door. It’s been buzzing for over an hour. Why? Because a few days ago a huge rainstorm blew in and the wind snapped a large limb off the neighbor’s tree which landed in the driveway. Had their car been parked under it, it would’ve been totaled for sure.
I can choose to be irritated by the (temporary) noise or thankful for them they are having it removed so they can get their cars in and out of the garage again. When the tree is gone, it doesn’t matter the shade it once provided is also gone. What matters is no one was hurt, no cars were damaged, and the problem was taken care of. Now that same tree can never fall into their home…which did happen to another house in the neighborhood. Perspective…
The way we see things is critical to our health and well being. What we believe and value determines how we think and behave. A reframe of your own can be powerful for you.
Consider challenging the structure of your own frame.
Is there anything you could choose to see differently than you do?
Could a problem be an opportunity? Could a weakness be a strength? Could an impossibility be a challenge accepted? Could an unkind word spoken to you be someone else’s really bad day?
Could you be happier after reframing your own situation?