The Importance of Reframing

First, a Personal Story

A few weeks ago, my family and I went up to the mountains and invited another family to join us for a hike. We were excited to see our friends for the first time in a while, and yet, at the last minute, they invited some other friends along who we don’t know. And frankly, my wife and I were bummed out. We wanted some quality time with our friends, and we weren’t excited about the idea of another family around. 

But, we decided to reframe our perspective. Instead of looking at the other family as an impediment to enjoying our time, we viewed it as an opportunity to share a beautiful hike with people who hadn’t been to that part of Colorado before. Instead of considering them a burden, we viewed them as people we could love and introduce to a beautiful place. Because of that, we actually had a great hike and really enjoyed the other couple.

What is Reframing

Reframing is the idea that the thoughts we have in our heads are just…thoughts. They come and go, and we have many of them every day. And often, the thoughts we have aren’t helpful or even true. We constantly have the opportunity to change the way we view an event or set of circumstances. 

For instance, look at the story above. By reframing our thoughts of disappointment, we had the opportunity to bring more people into a beautiful experience. That reframing changed our entire day for the better.

Examples of Reframing at Work

  • Reframing can help us with our email inbox. We can view reading and replying to emails as “a soul-draining activity”, or instead as an “opportunity to connect with people”,  or a “source of leads.”
  • When we are overwhelmed, we can feel deficient or instead see the situation as a learning experience. Or perhaps we feel overworked, but instead, recognize our boss sees our potential. 
  • When we make a mistake, we can look at this as a fault that we have within ourselves, or instead see the mistake as an opportunity to grow our self-management skills

Resources for the Practice of Reframing

I’ve found the key to reframing is to practice it over and over and over again. Daily, for sure, but more like hourly. Here are some of the best articles (and one book) I’ve found on how to practice reframing.