The power of the reframe

Use cognitive framing techniques to upgrade your mindset.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Have you ever heard someone say that? I have and on more than one occasion.

It’s a rationalisation by people who believe their life is guided by fate and destiny.

Whenever they find themselves in a difficult situation they believe it is caused by a higher force for reasons yet unknown.

In time the ‘reason’ will present itself and provide context that only hindsight can.

I don’t want to knock on anyone’s faith. We all have to tell ourselves stories to bring meaning to our otherwise seemingly pointless existence.

Believing that everything happens for a reason is one way of doing this but without empirical evidence it’s not something I can relate to.

Things happen because they happen. Bad things happen to good people. Innocent people have their lives cut short each day. Babies are born with debilitating diseases.

The world isn’t always a fair place.

“Things don’t happen for a reason until I give it one.”

I first heard Mike Cernovich say this on his podcast.

I’m not sure if this quote can be fully attributed to him but it sums up how to positively reframe a situation.

What exactly is a reframe?

In a nutshell, it’s a way of taking a negative situation and looking at it in a more positive light.

You have the power to ‘reframe’ the situation in whatever way you like.

Obviously there are some things that can’t be reframed, at least not immediately. The death of a child for example.

For the less serious things that happen to us in life there is a way of looking at it a different way.

Reframing was first developed in the 60s by the CBT crowd and has been used in psychology ever since.

It can help you rewire your thinking from negative thought patterns to more positive ones.

Girlfriend dumps you and starts dating someone else?

Reframe it as an opportunity for you to grow as an individual. Besides it sounds like she monkey branched you anyway which means it may have ended worse (divorce) had it continued.

Fail to get that job you went for?

Reframe it around the long commute and how you wouldn’t enjoy it.

This is a tweet by one of the Whatsapp founders. Before setting up the messaging app he applied unsuccessfully for a job at both Facebook and Twitter. The rest is history but even back then he knew how to positively reframe a situation.

Start improving yourself by going to the gym, reading books and friends comment that you’re getting weird?

Reframe it as you’re outgrowing them and they’re welcome to join you for the ride but ‘bye bye’ if not.

Frame a situation positively as soon as it arises

Don’t let the negative thinking frame a situation first.

You’re solidifying that thought pattern in your brain and it will take more time to rewire it to the new frame.

For about six months I hated someone I once loved. I had framed the situation on blaming that person and taking no responsibility myself. I allowed my emotions to get the better of my rational thought and needless to say I did myself no favours.

Once I reframed the situation I realised that the whole thing was one of the best things to happen to me.

It allowed me to reevaluate how I was living my life, my attitude towards people, my work and myself, and set me on a path to improve myself.

These days I use the reframe whenever I need to.

I don’t take things personally like I used to and realise that most people are in their own reality dealing with their own problems. If they’re acting like a dick it’s about them not me.

I don’t get envious like I used to. People who have more money, material items and social status than me are often dealing with a lot of internal issues like low self-esteem and low self-worth. They have to compensate by seeking more and requiring third-party validation as they have little understanding of internal success.

I’m not going to lie. I sometimes have to break out of a bad framing habit when it arises. I’m still a work in progress.

Once you understand the power of the reframe you have the power to never view things the same again.

Here’s what you need to do.

Think about your immediate past (say the last 6 to 12 months) and remember any situations that you reacted negatively to.

Something like an argument with a friend, an issue at work or just sheer bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Reframe it.

Even if at first you don’t believe the reframe keep reinforcing it and begin to notice how you feel. The situation will, over time, start feeling less important and in some cases you will feel a sense of positivity each time you revisit it with the new frame.

Keep practising this. It’s easy to slip back into an old frame.

Moving forward, start framing everything in a new way. How you react to a situation says a lot about your character and self-worth.

Using the reframe can help you deal more easily with problems and issues as they arise instead of reacting to them negatively and emotionally.

Reframing is the best form of mindset principles you can apply. It can literally change your entire reality.


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