Managing Stress By Reframing
Human beings tend to become fixated on singular summary perspectives of life occurrences, particularly those occurrences which cause stress and anxiety. We look at the picture and become so focused on the image inside of the frame, that we forget to take a step back and look at the whole wall.
“Reframing” is more than just an exercise for the art gallery. Cognitively speaking, when we talk about reframing, we are referring to the supportive contextual structure of your mind’s “image” of life. In other words, cognitive reframing is when we reposition things within the parameters of our own perspective and when we expand or re-centralize our creative capacity for thinking about problems that face us. In some instances, you might call it choosing to work smarter, rather than harder.
We do this reframing as a subconscious, instinctive tool for survival often enough. An obstacle confronts us, and it seems impossible to overcome until we start looking at that obstacle as an opportunity instead. Suddenly, when we reframe a problem into a new context, a wall becomes a potential vantage point. With a shift in perspective and orientation, a mountain is simply an uphill journey on the way to a smooth, downhill path.
The benefits of reframing manifest themselves both in the immediate present and into the future. In the short term, this coping mechanism allows one to not be burdened and/or held back by semantic or minor impediments. Bigger problems create a bigger picture, and it can be harder to find a frame to fit the picture that takes up too much space. So, we dial it in; we can’t correct the whole image at once, so we compartmentalize every image within, and reframe accordingly.
This practice has two positive results. First, we are able to celebrate a small victory, thus propelling ourselves forward with the momentum of our own successes. Nothing is so empowering as self-empowerment, and nothing is more defeating than self-defeat. So, be the proponent of your own development by propping yourself up with each tiny win!
Just as important as these small accomplishments is the cumulative effect of them all. The more we practice reframing as a tool for self-empowerment and self-conditioning toward independent success, the more this practice becomes instinct and an act of pure “muscle memory,” if you will. Ultimately, our goal through reframing is to simply become compulsive in our need to view life’s challenges through an opportunistic and driven perspective.
It comes down to this:
Reframing provides a long-term solution to micro-instances of stress and anxiety around specific events, objectives, and milestones that one may experience during the course of life.
Adult life often presents the living human with an unclear image. The picture can be fuzzy, sometimes no matter where you stand in the room. But, a simple effort such as holding your hands up, making a square, and looking at the image through a new view can sometimes shed a whole new light on the subject you might be wrestling with.
Obviously, there is a lot of abstraction at play here. Most readers of this blog will probably be able to contemplate cognitive behavior through a visual analogy, thus the extensive use of an ongoing metaphor. But, the truth is, things are not quite so black and white (or in living color, for that matter), as we would like them to be. Sometimes, nuances and complexities present themselves and it’s impossible to figure out how to reframe these amorphous elements in your world.
That’s when it’s probably a good idea to ask for help. Nudge the person next to you with your elbow, and maybe ask them what it is that they see. Sometimes, a little collaboration goes a long way.
Have you heard that conscious creativity is the new currency? I specialize in helping people foster this new capital, this energy of conscious creativity. I hope you’ll reach out to me, and invite me to help you reframe your problems, and turn them into chances worth snapping up.