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Today, we will explore a strategy referred to as reframing. This technique is also helpful during disputes and to gain better control over anger.
Reframing is about changing perception by understanding something in another way. There are two basic kinds of reframes: context reframing and content reframing. Both can alter our internal representations of events or situations, which permits us to experience the events in other, hopefully, more resourceful ways.
The second type of reframing is content reframing. Content reframing is simply changing the meaning of a situation - that is, the situation or behavior stays the same, but the meaning is changed. For instance, a famous army general reframed a distressful situation for his troops by telling them that "We're not retreating, we're just advancing in another direction." Another example is the reframing of death. Death is a life event that has different meaning in different cultures, and even many individuals deal with this event in vastly different ways. Some are forever grieving the loss, whereas others are joyous at the now eternal presence of the person's spirit. In other words, different people attach very different meaning and interpretations to the concept of death.
The content or meaning of a situation is determined by what you choose to focus on. An electrical power failure can be viewed as disruptive, a major disaster given all you have to get done. Or it can be viewed as an opportunity to spend some intimate time with your spouse or to have fun with your children finding innovative ways to manage the situation.
A content reframe is useful for statements such as: ‘I get annoyed when my boss stands behind me while I am working.
Notice how the person has taken the situation and given it a specific meaning -- which may or may not be true - and in so doing limits her resourcefulness and possible courses of action.
To reframe this situation, remember the assumption that, “Every behavior has a positive intention” and ask questions such as: “What other meaning could the boss’ behavior have? Or for what purpose does he do it? A possible reframe might be: ‘Is it possible he wants to help and does not know how to offer his assistance in any other way?’
What is the positive value in this behavior? The positive value could be related to the boss’ behavior (as above) or it could be related to the speaker’s behavior. A possible reframe might be: ‘Isn’t it great that you know your boundaries and are not prepared to allow someone to violate them?’
We hope this post has been helpful to you. We now invite members to ask questions and/or post comments!