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Reframing: What It is and How to Do It. (A Psychological Technique)

Reframing: What it is and how to do it. (A Psychological Technique)

Reframing: What it is and how to do it.

Reframing is the art of changing how a person feels about an event, by changing the way they evaluate the event.

If you ask someone, "How are you doing?" You might hear a range of responses;

  • Couldn't be better!
  • Great thanks
  • Well
  • Okay
  • Not bad
  • Not good
  • You don't want to know!
  • Sit down and let me tell you all my troubles

The interesting thing is; often the emotional response has little to do with the facts.

There are many people who live in luxurious surroundings, who are miserable, and many people who live in difficult surroundings who are happy.

So, it is NOT the external environment that causes a person's emotional state, but rather, it is the way they are evaluating their environment that make the difference to how they feel.

Reframing is the art of changing the way a person feels, (either you or another person) by changing the "base of their evaluation".

If you "change the base of the evaluation", then you will change the emotional response.

For example, if I asked you, "How are you doing?" then you could answer that question by reference to many different bases:

  1. How are you doing compared to this time yesterday?
  2. Or this time last year?
  3. Compared to other people your age?
  4. Or your goals?
  5. Or your expectations?
  6. Or the average?
  7. Or the majority?
  8. Or the best in the world?
  9. Or to the worst?
  10. Or to the ideal?
  11. Or compared to your friends?
  12. Or compared to other people in your family? etc

If you change the base of the evaluation, then you change the answer to the question, and your feelings as well.

Reframing is the art of changing the base of an evaluation, in order to change the answer and therefore the associated emotional responses. Try this:

Answer the following question, but answer it eight times, using a selection of bases taken from the above list:

"Do you earn a good income?

1. Compared to this this time last year?"

  • About the same. I'm doing okay I suppose.

2. Compared to other people your age?"

  • A bit better. So, I suppose I'm doing okay

3. How are you doing, compared to your goals?"

  • A lot worse. I'm doing terribly.

4. Compared to the average? "

  • Quite a bit better. I am glad to say.

5. Compared to the best?"

  • Nowhere near. I'm a loser!

6. Compared to the worst?"

  • Lots better. I'm doing really well.

7. Compared to your friends?"

  • Most of them, but not all. I'm doing okay.

8. Compared to the other people in your family?"

  • Better than my brother! Ha ha!

Can you see that if you change the base of the comparison you change the emotional response?

Reframing is asking a question in such a way that the person changes the way they respond emotionally because you have changed their base.

Reframing is a skill you can master, if you practice.

Your mission in life is to help others:

Use this principle to make others feel good about their current situation, and / or to take away the emotional pain from a situation.

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Further Reading in Positive Thinking

  • Reframing: What it is and how to do it. (A Psychological Technique)
    Reframing is a psychological technique used by therapists to help their clients look at situations from a different perspective. Reframing can also be useful in changing the way people look at everyday issues and help them to feel more empowered.
    Read Article >
  • How to Gain Certainty in an Uncertain World
    We live in uncertain times, which can be unsettling for many people. So how can we cope with such uncertainty and live life to the full? The answer is to work out which things you can change and which things we cannot.
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  • What is self-determination?
    Do you have control of your own destiny? Your self-determination will, to a degree, help you set and achieve your goals. Outside factors will pay a part in your life, but YOU are the only person who can control you!
    Read Article >
  • What is a Positive Mental Attitude?
    Positive mental attitude is a philosophy which advocates that by having an optimistic disposition in all areas of your life, it will create less stress and attract more positive outcomes. Read our tips for cultivating a positive mindset.
    Read Article >
  • Happiness is a State of Mind
    We all want to be happy. But happiness is not just a physical state, depending on your material possessions, it is a state of mind. You alone are in control of your happiness. Happiness can be achieved by controlling your inner thoughts.
    Read Article >