Okay, so let’s dive into today’s episode. Today we are talking about a little something called “reframing.”
Reframing is seeing the current situation from a different perspective.
So imagine in your mind, taking any thought you have and putting an art frame around it. So let’s say it’s a thick gold frame. Now, let’s swap out that frame for a thin black one…well that changes the entire perspective of that thought! And when someone changes their thought…then thinking and behavior often will change too.
So you might be asking, “Um, Marion? Why does this matter?”
So this matters a ton!
Because at the base level, we are who we think we are.
Our thoughts create our universe. Right? Our experience at work, at home, in the gym…it’s all defined by the thoughts we think.
And sometimes, we allow crappy thoughts to take root. And crappy thoughts are kind of like cancer…they can spread and become bigger and multiply.
So we can see this pretty easily with kids. For example, as a school psychologist, I remember working with a 3rd grade boy who was struggling with some attention issues. And it wasn’t that he didn’t try…the traditional classroom just wasn’t built for some kiddos.
Anyway, he had this beautiful + curious mind and I remember he told the most colorful, detailed stories. But he was struggling in some areas.
So one day I went to observe him in his classroom…you do a lot of that as a school psychologist. Go observe kids in their natural habitat. And I noticed that when the class was doing some reading work…he carried his book and would pace back and forth in the rear of the classroom and he looked so happy and focused. His shoulders were pulled back and he was just dialed into his book.
But the moment the teacher asked everyone to put away their books and get ready for a math quiz, he immediately changed physically. He did this dramatic somewhat impressive sigh, and his shoulders slumped forward and you’d think he was wearing shoes made of cement the way he trudged to his desk.
I made a note of my observations in my little fancy notebook because I had no idea math was even an issue for him. But I learned over the years, that 90% of what I needed to know was in the nonverbal body language of the children and families I worked with.
And this is true for you too btw…your co-workers, your partners, your Tinder date…paying attention to someone’s body language, their facial expressions, where they’re looking when telling you something can often be like you are reading their mind.
It’s kinda a super power but so many people don’t dial into it.
But I digress…later that day, I had my one-on-one session time with this sweet boy. And I asked him, “Tell me how you feel about reading time?”
His eyes lit up and replied enthusiastically that he loved reading. He was on the 3rd book in a dragon series and was really stoked about it. He also added “I’m pretty good at reading too…just ask my teacher.”
“That’s awesome!” I replied!
I then asked him “OK, now tell me how you feel about math?”
Once again his shoulders slumped and he took a deep breath and he replied “I’m not very good at math.”
“I asked him what makes him think he’s not very good at math?”
So I had already given him an academic assessment test a couple weeks earlier and so I knew he was just fine in math.
He then told me that they’re starting to learn some division and he just isn’t good at it.
I asked him “Well…is this the first time you’re learning division?”
And of course he replied “Yes”
“So it’s totally new to you? And it’s not super easy to learn since it’s brand new?”
And I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation, but the point is that he had developed this thought…this BELIEF really, that he wasn’t good at math because division was challenging for him.
And if we aren’t careful…thoughts CAN become beliefs. And beliefs are what create our identities.
So we needed to do some Reframing.
We needed a new frame around his thoughts about math and his abilities.
So step 1: Identify the poopy thought. In his case, It was “I’m not very good at math.”
Step 2: “replace it with a thought that is true + helpful + optimistic”
So in his case I don’t remember exactly the new thought he settled on, but it was something like “This new math isn’t impossible…I just haven’t learned it yet but I will!”
SO he was possibly on his way to creating an identity of someone who was good at reading but not good at math. Very black and white thinking right…but that’s often how our brains work.
And as adults, we have the same thing going on allll the time! And we are worse at this than kids are…
We have thoughts that don’t serve us but have somehow taken root in our brains.
For instance, for the past 8 years I’ve worked with thousands of women on their weight loss goals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I have tried everything and I can’t lose weight.”
Now we both know that’s not true. No one tried everything and everyone can lose weight. It may look different for every single person…because we ARE different. But the belief that “I can’t lose weight” is extremely detrimental.
The mind-body connection is very strong. And it operates on primarily a subconscious level…meaning we can have a thought and it’s broadcasted through our body and facial expressions without us even realizing it.
This is why some of us are really bad poker players.
And if we are telling ourselves over and over again “I can’t lose weight” it will affect the weight loss journey…it’s going to hold you back.
So how do we take a negative thought like “I can’t lose weight” and turn it into something that’s…again…true + helpful + optimistic?
And by the way…this isn’t toxic positive thinking. This is about mastering your thoughts so that you can create the outcomes in your life that you want and are capable of!
So if I have a client who is telling me “I can’t lose weight” I ask them to do something for me. And this is the very simple yet super effective tip I wanted to share with you today.
I ask them to pretend that it’s their best friend who is telling them that they can’t lose weight. What would they say to their friend?
This is a really powerful exercise by the way to do with yourself whenever you have a crappy thought that needs reframing. It’s one of the best and easiest ways to get some perspective.
So what would you tell your best friend if she’s telling you that she can’t lose weight?
So almost always, they respond with something like “Duh Marion, I would tell her that she CAN lose weight! That she’s done it before so she knows that she can do it again. And I would tell her to commit to the process and trust the process.”
BOOM. They just reframed their own crappy thought. So now instead of marinating in this crappy mindspace of “I can’t” they have now elevated their mindset to a positive + capable space! And that can often make the biggest difference in their entire journey.
I also say that oftentimes before we can talk about losing weight on the body, we gotta first lose the weight between our ears.
So as I wrap up this episode, I want to end by sharing with you the most powerful example of reframing that I have ever heard of personally.
Back in graduate school, I was friends with this amazing woman named Amber. She and I bonded over our love of margaritas and nachos after class. And one day over said margaritas and nachos, I asked her what made her interested in pursuing becoming a therapist.
She then told me how she was incredibly close to her brother. Her brother was her best friend. He was diagnosed with AIDS and treatment never seemed to work for him.
She told me about how she sat by his hospital bed and held his hand telling him how much she loved him when he took his last breath. So she was there the moment he died.
She said it was incredibly traumatic for her and she really struggled over the next several months. She couldn’t sleep, she had feelings of depression and guilt. So she did something she hadn’t done before and she went to speak with a psychologist.
Together they identified what was the single thought she had around holding her brother’s hand and watching him die. And the thought they identified was “I couldn’t save him and there was nothing I could do to help him. ”
Together in their session they reframed this thought. And Amber said that one single exercise changed everything for her.
She reframed it from “I couldn’t save him and there was nothing I could do to help him” to “My brother knew how much I loved him when he died. He wasn’t alone because I was there for him.”
And by this point I’m crying in my margarita, but she had a sense of peace and calmness when she shared this story with me because she had reframed a traumatic experience.
She had turned this moment…this memory that was haunting her and carried so much guilt and sadness…into a new memory. One that is framed in gratitude and love. How she was there for her brother till the very end…and she even had this sense of “how lucky was I to be able to be there for him to be the last voice he heard and the last person he saw?”
That’s freakin beautiful right?
So to recap:
Step 1: identify a thought that is not serving you right now.
Step 2: ask yourself “What would I say to my best friend if she came to me with this crappy thought? What would I tell her?”
Step 3: Write down what you would tell her and then from that, create your new framing thought.
And then you have to embrace that new thought. Repeat it to yourself + write it down where you see it every day + and commit to believing.
Commit to believing these new replacement thoughts. They quite literally might be the x factor for your next breakthrough.
And on that note…always remember…that you are just one decision away from changing your entire life.
I’ll see you next time!
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