Reframing – 5 Simple Mental Tools to Change the Way You Experience Something, Change the Way You Feel, thus Change How You Think

Meet Anette Prehn, the award-winning trainer from Denmark, who has an extraordinary ability to turn a boring scientific subject into a fun dinner conversation and make you fall in love with your brain in the process.
I got to know Anette by accident via a discussion thread on Linkedin while looking for tips on conducting an interactive Myers-Briggs workshop. Then I got intrigued by the title of her book “Play Your Brain: Adopt a Musical Mindset and Change your Life and Career”, googled for more information and found this online course “The Neuroscience of Reframing and How to Do It” on Udemy.
What is reframing? In the words of Anette, “Reframing is the ability to change your perspective deliberately – a powerful, brain-based process that enables you to approach people and situation with curiosity, flexibility and constructiveness. Effective change often starts from within: from changing our own perceptions.”

What does it mean by framing?  Imagine a photograph, which is a snapshot of a person, a group of people, an object, an environment or an event. Depend on the angle where the photograph is taken, different photographers or even the same photographer take different snapshots, different photographs, different frames of the same thing.

Similarly, many of us can look at the same situation and listen to the same message, yet arriving at different interpretations. Our brains have taken different snapshots based on our frame of reference, “a complex schema of unquestioned beliefs, values and so on that we use when inferring meaning. If any part of that frame is changed (hence ‘reframing’), then the meaning that is inferred may change.” (source)

By adopting a reframing mindset and using reframing as a mental tool, we can re-interpret a negative event and change or broaden our perception of it and remain calm and cool during a situation which would otherwise automatically send us into an emotional meltdown.

In this reframing course, you will learn the basic of the amygdala, the region of the brain that stores emotion memories. “It detects potential threats and reacts to what we care about,” writes Anette. Certain events, words, and micro messages can trigger your amygdala and cause it to hijack your thinking brain.

One preventive approach is to reframing using these five reframing methods.

1. Benefit Finding: Identify benefits of past events, what you have and can gain from this experience in addition to potential future benefits.

2. Robinson Crusoe Method: Similar to Benefit Finding except you only look at the current situation and facts.

3. Question Your Assumption: We see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear and cherry-pick the formation to supports the belief and ideas we already have. Thus to question our assumption, we can try to look for things that we didn’t see and ponder for things we might have missed.

 4. Perceptual Position: Most of the time, we see things from our point of view, the 1st position. Then we get stressed, angry, disappointed and sad when we class with others (2nd position) who don’t share our values and beliefs. This reframing method encourages you to step out of your natural 1st position to observe from the 2nd position and take few steps further to the 3rd as a natural observer, 4th as system or organization and finally 5th from a universal or bird-eye view.

5. Timeline: Sometimes we feel stuck and overwhelmed by the multiple options that we have to pick. Choosing this means not able to do that, and eventually you end up choosing nothing.  However, if we arrange the many options over a time period, reassuring to ourselves that now we do A, at later time we do B, maybe combine with C, etc, we can get out of the analysis paralysis “we must do this or that.”