Reframing: adopting a new perspective

Reframing: adopting a new perspective

Sometimes we can't change what happens to us, but we can change the way we interpret it. Reinterpreting thoughts allows us to better manage adversity.

Reframing: adopting a new perspective

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

Sometimes seeing things from another point of view improves our ability to manage difficulties. This is exactly what reframing is for: to rethink certain aspects or situations from another point of view to reduce confusion, malaise and tension. It is a very useful resource that all of us should use.

It is not easy to resort to this mental skill. People tend to be stubborn in their interpretations and assessments of situations, circumstances and relationships. They do not hesitate to label a colleague who is always in a bad mood or one obsessed with order as toxic.

Maybe that toxic person is having a bad time in silence. Anyone obsessed with order can have a brilliant mind that would be worth learning something from. Let's face it: our reality has many facets and it is not good to stop at the most negative ones.

Knowing how to relativize and open your mind to other more positive perspectives can significantly improve the quality of our life. Let's see together what reframing consists of.

What does reframing consist of?

Reframing is a widely used technique in therapy. Thanks to it, the person is able to see things differently and to change the meanings attributed. The purpose is to understand that some points of view act as a filter capable of obscuring everything, altering emotions, thoughts and behaviors; ultimately causing suffering.

Let's take an example: I have a flashy nose or I am very thin or short. In addition to working on my self-esteem or acceptance of my person, I also need to employ a positive frame for each situation. Instead of thinking that everyone will look at me if I go to a party, I have to relativize that idea and focus on having fun. I have to think that we all have flaws and peculiarities that make us unique.

Should I avoid attending social events for this? Obviously not. The mental patterns we use to interpret certain areas of our life not only limit us, but prevent us from being happy. Unfortunately, most of us make use of these mental mechanisms. To think that there is only one perspective and a unique way of looking at things is very human.

Go from problem to goal

Reframing follows a specific path that allows you to move from negativity to a more open attitude, constructive and hopeful. To understand this better, we will put ourselves in the shoes of another person, who has just received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

This person will be led to think that their life is over, that they will never work again and that they have no future.

The problem is the following: this chronic disease is degenerative, so we tend to think that all is lost, that there is no other option but to accept the end.

During the therapeutic process it will be essential to make use of positive reframing to analyze the situation from another perspective. The aim is to move from the problem to a goal that instills hope, a way out capable of breaking the negative model.

In this case, the focus will be on understanding the disease and admitting that there are various options for curbing it and continuing to live.

Reframing is not about extreme optimism, it is about providing solutions

Reframing arises within the framework of positive psychology theorized by Martin Seligman in the 90s. It should be pointed out that this technique is not intended to make the patient extremely optimistic.

Rather, it serves to help him consider the options available to him to positively manage difficulties and improve his life. Such a perspective requires understanding that sometimes we cannot change what happens to us.

If we lose the job, we have to accept it. If we are diagnosed with a disease, the reality is that and no other. However, reframing allows us to contemplate various approaches to address and overcome these events.

It allows us to weaken the negative and defeatist prejudice that often traps us and leads us to turn our gaze to other possibilities, other motivating perspectives to better manage the already complex circumstances.

Thanks to this resource, we can find the emotional calm and mental clarity necessary to redefine the meanings we attribute to certain dynamics.

Finally, reframing is a technique for restructuring the thoughts that we should make our own. A way to overcome difficult times that arise during the journey. If we cannot do it alone, it will be advisable to start a therapeutic accompaniment.

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