How reframing helps us change

In my recent article How free are you: Limiting beliefs and how to modify them I suggested that the key is to clarify your current beliefs so you can determine what future beliefs you would like to hold and enact. I offered a who, how, what approach through which to do this, where who equates to our truth or our values, how to our personality and behaviour, and what to our various identities through which we enact our behaviour (ie, what we do).

However, this still leaves open the question; how do we go about changing, proactively?


A key route is through reframing. Reframing, which facilitates positive change, does not actually change the situation. Reframing changes our perception of the situation which in turn enables us to see alternative and more positive and productive ways of responding.


One form of reframing is through a process that switches our too often ‘negative feedback loop’ into a ‘positive feedback loop’ that connects the left and right sides of the brain through a technique called ‘bridging’ where we use language (left brain), for example, through the use of the word ‘manageable/y’ to help us control our emotional state (right brain);


  • I feel depressed: The use of this statement locks us into that emotional state (that frame).
  • I feel manageably depressed: This does not change our emotional state of being depressed, but it does give us a sense of control over it.
  • I feel manageable: This allows us to move from the feeling of depression and opens up the emotions to feeling something else (potential to shift the frame).
  • I feel manageably happy: If we are open to feeling something else we are then able to accept being manageably happy.
  • I feel happy: The use of this statement locks us into that emotional state (that frame). We have now reframed the original state of being ‘depressed’ to the state of being ‘happy’.


We are now in a position where we can change the word used from ‘manageable/y’ to ‘increasingly’ to extend the emotional state we now feel.


  • I feel increasingly happy: Now we open yourself up to the possibilities of feeling even more than happy.


This has real significance for the development of emotional intelligence, i.e. knowing one’s emotions, which is the foundations of self-awareness.


Once we have opened ourselves up to challenging our limiting beliefs we are better placed to undertake reframing. Indeed, we will find it difficult to entertain the notion that reframing could work if we have not yet accepted the need to challenge our current limiting beliefs.


But once we have opened up to challenging our limiting beliefs there are a number of areas we can use to shift our perspective through (reframe), such as;


  • Taking on a more global perspective. When we have problems, issues or feel stuck it is usually because we are caught up in the detail or in the localized problem. Remember, where our focus goes, our energy flows.


  • Taking on a future orientated perspective. Ask yourself: What will my life be like in 10 years’ time if nothing changes? What will my life be like in 10 years’ time if I change now? Ask yourself what your passion is, and if you are working to fulfil your passion or to fit in. Are you waiting for permission?


  • Taking on someone else’s perspective. How would someone else see your situation? How would an independent third party see your situation? Consider, that which is most natural to us is that which we practice the most. Practice seeing things from someone else’s perspective.


  • Grow in confidence. It has long been recognized that the key barrier to shifting beyond our limiting beliefs is our own lack of confidence. (1) lacking confidence in who we are; not believing we are good enough/ worth it. (2) lacking the confidence to move beyond our comfort zone, and our fears, usually connected to unhelpful thinking habits. (3) lacking confidence in our competence and abilities.


Bringing it all together

Reframing, or the ability to shift one’s perspective, is paramount if we wish to progress beyond our problems and limited beliefs. This is difficult because it requires energy and focus, and a clarity of direction. It is much easier to carry on as is. After all, we might not get it right.


But ask yourself, what would it mean if you didn’t have to get it right?



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