The Ultimate Guide for Reframing Your Thoughts Using NLP

Charles Thompson

Never solve a problem from its original perspective.


What is Framing and How Does it Work?

Framing is a mental structure that is built upon the beliefs you have about yourself, your roles, your circumstances, and about other people. It is a structure you use to ascribe meaning to given circumstances. In other words, the meaning you ascribe to any event is dependent upon how you frame it in your mind. As such, your frames shape how you see the world, how you see yourself, how you view others, and how you interpret your life.

Frames can be of a positive or of a negative nature; they can also be within your control or out of your control. As such, they are either helpful within the context you are using them, or they are unhelpful. They either expand your opportunities and the possibilities of the situation, or they limit your options moving forward. They are therefore appropriate or inappropriate, good or bad depending on the objectives you have in mind.

When you decide to work on a project you set a scope or frame for that project so that everyone knows what is included and excluded. Everyone understands what is required to get the job done successfully and what they therefore need to focus on in order to get their part of the project completed. In the same way, the frames you use on a daily basis provide a context for your thoughts, decisions, attitudes and actions. They help guide the direction of your thoughts to help you accomplish your desired outcomes. Thusly, your actions are guided by how you frame events and circumstances; and how you frame things is dependent upon your preferences, attitudes and biases.

You will for instance use frames to handle feedback and criticism; to solve problems; to get a better understanding of the long-term consequences of your decisions and actions; to connect unrelated events and circumstances; and to make more sense of the world you live in. These frames allow you to gather unique understandings about your life experiences. And it is these understandings that shape what you will do and how you will do things moving forward.

The frames of reference you use collaborate with your beliefs and values. You will therefore frame things in a certain way that corresponds with what you believe and value most in life — irrelevant of whether your beliefs are helpful or unhelpful. This basically means that every frame you make is linked to an underlying belief and/or assumption that is implied by your thoughts. In this way your frames provide you with a context in which you can assess your progress. This is helpful, but at the same time can be unhelpful. It is helpful because it allows you to unlock new opportunities and explore other possibilities that might be advantageous. However, it is unhelpful if your frames are built upon your limiting belief systems. In such instances — and without much objective thought — you might unconsciously be setting boundaries and putting limitations on yourself regarding what you can or can’t do; and this therefore limits your perspective, opportunities and the possibilities that lay before you.

There is however a positive intention behind all your thoughts. Therefore all the frames of reference you use are there to help you in some way, or at least in some specific context. This of course doesn’t mean that these thoughts are right or that they are acceptable, however it does mean that they have some value, and therefore can be used in a positive way. But more about that later.

Given all this, it makes perfect sense that your frames of reference would provide you with a “focus” for your day-to-day activities. These activities will either support your goals, or they will hinder your progress. It will all depend on the belief systems that are influencing your behaviors, thoughts, decisions, perceptions and emotions. If these beliefs are helpful, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if they are unhelpful then you will struggle to realize your desired outcomes.

Framing and Reframing Definition


Types of Frames

You might typically use several unhelpful frames of reference throughout the day. These frames of reference come in the form of your limiting beliefs and unhelpful thoughts. Have a read through these articles for further insights into the framing process.

Within this section we are going to focus on helpful frames of reference you might choose to use during specific situations. These frames of reference are accompanied by a set of questions that you can ask yourself that will help you to frame events and circumstances in a very specific way.

When you typically have an empowering set of beliefs that are congruent with the goals and objectives you desire to achieve, then these frames of reference will seem rather natural and familiar. You might actually use these frames without consciously thinking about them. If that’s the case, then you’re certainly on your way. However, if after going through these frames you acknowledge that this isn’t typically how you think in specific situations, then there very well could be a set of limiting beliefs and unhelpful thoughts that are influencing your daily choices and decisions. Hence, you must first work through these areas of your psyche before “frames” such as these begin feeling natural and comfortable.

Let’s now take a look at five helpful frames of reference you might typically use throughout the day.

Outcome Frame

When using this frame you are giving yourself a focus for what you want to achieve, while also taking into account the resources you might need. This is important because every activity you choose to focus on must have a set outcome that will help direct your thoughts, decisions and actions. This is all about purposeful living. When you live with a sense of purpose, you set outcomes for each day and every area of your life. As such, you are unlikely to get sidetracked by other matters, commitments, responsibilities or requests.

Using an Outcome frame in the most optimal way means that you are living purposefully; that you are clear about the outcomes you would like to achieve; that you understand fully what is expected of you; and that you are decisive in your actions and interactions.

When you use the Outcome frame, you would typically ask yourself:

What am I trying to achieve here?

What do I want? What am I pursuing?

What resources might I need to get there?

What specifically do I want from this outcome?

Is this decision getting me closer to my outcome? Or is it pulling me away?

What’s a more optimal decision I could make? Why is this better?

How will I know when I have achieved my desired outcome? What will I see, hear, feel or experience?

Clearly defined outcomes are very helpful because they provide you with a context for making decisions and for assessing your behavior. With outcomes in place, you know what to do and you understand where you’re going. Without these outcomes in place you end up frustrated, overwhelmed and confused. When you have no specific focus for your actions you can’t build the momentum that is required to move you in the direction of your choosing.

“As If” Frame

When using this frame you are pretending that an outcome you would like to achieve is already true. You are acting “as if” your desired state or goal is already in your possession. In reality it’s not true, however when you put yourself into a frame-of-mind where this is true for you, then you begin thinking differently about things. And as you think differently you start making more optimal choices and decisions that might very well help you to bring your desired states and/or outcomes into reality.

You might for instance pretend that you are competent and confident doing something that normally makes you feel nervous. This will instantly put you in a different frame-of-mind, and therefore allow you to deal with your nerves far more effectively. This is advantageous because all of a sudden you are now opening yourself up to new possibilities and perspectives, instead of giving-in to your limiting beliefs. It’s as though you’re stepping out of your current limitations and into a more optimal state-of-mind where you have the appropriate resources in place to feel competent and confident.

When using the “As If” frame, you would typically ask yourself:

What would it be like if this happened…?

What would it feel like if I was…?

Let’s pretend as if there is a solution to this problem. Where could I search for answers?

Let’s pretend as if I can make this work. What ideas now come to mind?

Let’s think as if I’ve already achieved this goal. Now I’ll work backwards to identify the steps I took to get there.

Use this frame any time you are uncertain about something in the future. It will unlock new possibilities to help you gather deeper insights about the states or outcomes you would like to achieve.

Ecology Frame

When using this frame, you are searching for long-term effects and consequences of your daily choices and decisions on different aspects of your life such as family, work, self, environment, community, etc.

Some typical decisions you make may very well be beneficial and help improve specific areas of your life. However, at the same time they could have negative consequences on other areas of your life. And as a result the decisions you make will not be optimal and may have unfortunate outcomes in the long-run.

Choosing to go on a juice fast might help you detox your body and improve your health and vitality, however you are also likely to lose a lot of weight, which could weaken your immune system. And because it is the middle of winter you might be more susceptible to falling ill. Therefore is it worth juice fasting? Or, is there a more optimal time to undertake your juice fast?

When you take the ecology frame in mind, you are looking at the consequences of your choices, decisions and actions from all possible angles and perspectives. You are looking at them from a short-term as well as a long-term view. And you are taking into consideration how these decisions feel, how they affect you, how they affect others, and whether or not they serve the greater good of everything and everyone concerned.

Often there will be no perfect decision. Some negative consequences will always be there. As such, your job is to minimize these negative consequences wherever possible to help you optimize the choices and decisions you make.

When using the Ecology frame, you would typically ask yourself:

What are the consequences of making this decision? Of taking this action? Of indulging in this behavior?

How will this affect other areas of my life? Physically? Spiritually? Emotionally? Socially? Financially?

How will this affect me in the short-term? What about in the long-term?

What are the wider consequences of all this on other people in my life?

What are the consequences of this on my goals? On my responsibilities? On my life roles?

How will doing this make me feel?

Is doing this good for me? Does it serve me?

Is doing this good for others? Does it serve them?

Does doing this serve the greater good of all concerned?

What else is affected by this? How?

Could I possibly mitigate any of the negative effects I identified here? How?

Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

Could I accept the negatives given the value I’m getting from the positives?

If after going through this questioning process you feel that the decision you are about to make or the action you are about to take has passed the ecology check, then by all means follow through with your intentions. However, if the negatives outweigh the positives, then you might need to choose a different path moving forward.

This is not about creating confusion. It’s rather about making sensible, balanced and intelligent decisions that you are unlikely to regret in the future that will serve the greater good of all concerned.

Problem Solving Frame

When using a problem solving frame, you are focusing on what is wrong or needs fixing. Here you are not overwhelmed by your problem, you are rather looking for effective ways to better understand your problem from a variety of angles and perspectives. As your understanding of the problem grows, so do your insights. And the more insights you gather, the greater your chances of finding an appropriate solution to the problem at hand.

Many people typically get overwhelmed by unexpected problems. As such they switch on the “panic button” or end up procrastinating and ignoring their problems altogether. Problems that are ignored are not likely to vanish. They will most certainly come back to haunt you sooner or later. As such, it’s always helpful to work through your problems using a variant of this problem solving frame.

When using the Problem Solving frame, you would typically ask yourself:

What assumptions am I potentially making about people and/or circumstances related to this problem?

What has to be true for this to be a problem?

How has the problem been maintained?

How have certain factors contributed to this problem? In what specific ways?

Where am I now? Where do I want to go from here? What is the next step?

How can this be solved most effectively?

Where does the solution lie? What possibilities exist?

What have I learned from all this? What will I now do differently?

The final two questions encourage you to learn from your experience. As you learn you grow, and as you grow you have a wider understanding of the problems confronting your reality. This thusly helps improve the choices and decisions you make moving forward. Therefore, the next time you are confronted with a similar problem, you will already have the necessary know-how and experience to tackle this problem in the most effective way.

The Problem Solving Frame

Systematic Frame

When using this frame you are effectively making sense of your life and the world around you through the observation of patterns. These patterns often come in the form of seemingly random cause-effect relationships that provide you with valuable insights into your life and circumstances, including the effects of your choices and decisions.

Inventors and scientists are often exceptional systematic thinkers. They have an uncanny ability to pinpoint how certain things influence other things within a whole system. This is very helpful while solving problems because it allows them to view the problem as part of an overall system, and not as an isolated component. As such, they are able to make unexpected and surprising connections between different parts that help them understand the entire scope of the problem from a wide variety of angles and perspectives.

Too many times, we get caught up focusing on one part of a problem without fully understanding how the problem connects to other things. And it’s this narrow-minded thinking that limits our perspective of the situation, and as such we are unable to solve the problem because we don’t fully understand how this problem fits into the overall system.

When you use the Systematic frame, you would typically ask yourself:

How does this fit with what I already know?

How does this connect to a wider system?

What is the relationship between these events?

How did this affect that? Why is this relevant?

How is what I am doing keeping things as they are?

Your main purpose for asking yourself these questions is to unlock subtle patterns that will help you to gain a better understanding of how the problem interacts with the whole. In this way you will gather the necessary insights to help you solve your problem far more effectively.

Types of Frames


What is Reframing and How Does it Work?

Reframing is a linguistic tool used to consciously change your limiting frames to help support your desired goals, beliefs and behaviors. Reframing does this by interrupting your old unhelpful thought patterns with new interpretations and perspectives of reality that are more helpful and supportive of your desired objectives. In other words, reframing helps you put events and circumstances into a different context that is more favorable. It’s as if you’re changing the meaning of an event or experience in order to put yourself into a more positive and resourceful state-of-mind. Therefore instead of sabotaging yourself, you are adopting more useful ways of thinking and doing things that will help you to potentially overcome your personal limitations, boundaries, phobias, fears and even trauma.

Reframing is very much like changing a picture in a picture frame. The frame hasn’t changed, however the picture within the frame is now different. In other words, the situation hasn’t changed, however your view of the situation is now different then what it was before. You are therefore not changing the situation, but rather changing your view of the situation in a more helpful and optimal way.

What all this implies is that events and circumstances do not have inherent meaning. You rather assign meaning to events and circumstances based on your interpretations and perspectives. Therefore, no matter what horrible things might happen to you, they are only horrible because you interpret them that way. Interpreting things another way will assign a different meaning to these events and circumstances. And as you assign a different meaning to something, you perceive the situation in a different light, and as a result you feel differently about it. Therefore a negative event can be interpreted in a positive way, and instead of feeling bad about it, you end up feeling excited and inspired.

When you change the frame of your experience, this influences how you tend to perceive, interpret and react to events and circumstances. In other words, reframing helps you experience your actions and the impact of your attitudes and beliefs in a different way. It helps you experience things from a different perspective or frame of reference that can be more advantageous and helpful. As such, you become more resourceful and can therefore make better and more optimal decisions moving forward.

Reframing isn’t a new way of thinking, however it can promote a better way of thinking in various circumstances where you need a different frame of reference to help you overcome your problems in creative ways. As a matter a fact, reframing is a significant part of life. Whether you unconsciously reframe things, or you hear other people reframe things, it is undoubtedly something that affects you on a daily basis. For instance, you might hear a journalist put a negative spin on something positive in order to get the story on the front page of a newspaper. Or you hear a comedian take you from one frame of reference to another frame of reference while telling a joke. Or an inventor takes something ordinary and turns it into something useful. These “reframes” are all around us; they are all around you.

Even though many reframes often put a positive spin on things, it’s important to note that reframing isn’t about pretending that everything is wonderful, perfect and positive. It’s rather about providing you with more varied ways of interpreting your problems to help you expand the possibilities to find better solutions and paths moving forward.


Types of Reframes

There are two types of reframes that we can typically make. One of them is called a content reframe, and the other a context reframe. Let’s look at both of them in a little detail:

Content Reframe

A content reframe shifts the meaning of the behavior. In other words, it’s dependent on what you choose to focus on, which therefore means that the same situation can have positive, negative or different meanings. You might for instance leave work later than expected and unfortunately you get caught up in peak hour traffic. This would normally frustrate you, however you take this extra time to listen to an educational audio book. You therefore choose to focus on doing something productive and educational rather than frustrating yourself with the peak hour traffic.

Whenever you take a situation and give it a specific meaning, that is when you are using a content reframe. You might for instance acknowledge that you feel agitated when your friend constantly interrupts you while you watch a movie together. Here you have taken the situation and given it a specific meaning, which of course may or may not be true. However, whether or not it is true, it has now limited your resourcefulness and possible courses of actions moving forward. To reframe this situation you must ask yourself:

What is the positive intention here?

What could this behavior really mean?

For what purpose do they do this?

What would I like it to mean?

The first question acknowledges that every behavior has a positive intention. The second and third question helps you search for alternate meanings that might also be possible and relevant in this situation. And the fourth question provides you with the freedom to choose the meaning you would like to associate to this particular situation.

The positive intention your friend might have is the fact that they enjoy interacting with you, and would therefore prefer to talk rather than to just sit and watch a movie. As such, maybe watching a movie isn’t the best use of the time you guys spend together. It might instead be better to play a board game or video game where you can chat and play at the same time. This therefore highlights that their intention isn’t to annoy you, but rather to “get to know you” better. And that’s exactly what the behavior could really mean. However, ultimately it’s up to you what you would like this behavior to mean. And whatever perspective you take will ultimately influence how you feel about the situation and the choices and decisions you make moving forward.

In another example, you might make a generalization that:

Making a mistake while giving a speech means that I am a hopeless public speaker…

Here you are implying that one mistake seals your fate. You have ascribed a “meaning” to your mistake by indicating that because of this mistake you are going to be forever defined as a “hopeless public speaker”. In such instances it is helpful to ask yourself:

What might be useful about this experience?

How else could I interpret the meaning of this mistake?

What could I potentially learn from the mistakes I made?

What did I do well? What’s positive about this situation?

This questioning process encourages you to consider the positive aspects of your behavior to help encourage you to change the way you view the meaning you have ascribed to this particular experience.

Context Reframe

A context reframe shifts the interpretation and/or the perception of the behavior. This is helpful because almost all behaviors are useful or appropriate in some context. A behavior that might not be acceptable or helpful in one context may very well be quite acceptable and helpful in another context. For instance, talking loudly might not be appropriate at church, however it is more than appropriate at a sports game. Or eating with your hands might not be appropriate at a five star restaurant, however it is more than appropriate at McDonalds.

Let’s say that you make the assumption that some of the behaviors you indulge in are not appropriate. Say for instance that you consider yourself too pushy. You tend to be quite assertive and direct with other people in order to ensure that you get what you want. Now, in a certain context this behavior might be inappropriate, however in another context being assertive can be rather acceptable and very helpful. When faced with such a dilemma you must ask yourself:

In what context could this behavior be appropriate?

In what context could this behavior be useful?

In what context could this behavior potentially serve me?

In what way could this be viewed as resourceful?

How has this behavior helped me in the past?

Being assertive and pushy may not be appropriate while working with kids. However, being assertive can be very helpful and appropriate when dealing with a telemarketer.

The biggest takeaway from this is the fact that there are no “right” or “wrongs”. This is not about all-or-nothing thinking. What is unhelpful and hurtful in one context can very well be useful and helpful in another context. However, you will need to reframe things in order to take all possibilities into consideration. Therefore, don’t discount a seemingly negative or limiting behavior. This behavior might not work for you in one particular context, however this doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you in another situation or at a future time.

Guidelines for Reframing Reality


10 Reframes You Can Use to Solve Your Problems

Let’s now look at some common ways you can potentially reframe your problems or perspectives using elements taken from the content and context reframes discussed above. As you go over these reframes, keep in mind that changing the frame of your experience will have a major impact on how you perceive and respond to the events and circumstances of your life.

When faced with a problem or an unhelpful state-of-mind you might for instance choose to use the following reframes to help shift how you think about things:

Time-frames

When you use time frames you are using your perspective of “time” as a means of shifting how you think about things. You could for example create a false sense of urgency by reframing the amount of time you have to solve a problem. You might for instance have a couple of weeks before the deadline. However, to create urgency you reframe the time-frame and instead convince yourself that you only have a day to solve this problem, and therefore must begin immediately. This helps you avoid procrastination, while encouraging decisive action.

Redefining Experience Reframes

When you redefine your experience you are re-interpreting what the experience means to you. This goes back to the content reframe where you change the meaning of the behavior or situation in order to see it in a new and different light. Therefore when faced with a difficult problem, shift how you define the experience. You might for instance search for what’s useful about this problem that you could potentially use to your advantage.

Metaphorical Reframes

Using metaphors or analogies will help you to experience the problem or situation in a different way. You’re no longer bound by the boundaries of the physical world. Instead, you can work on solving the problem by playing around with the metaphor in your imagination. And once you have solved the problem using the metaphor, you can then bring this solution into the real world. It’s an effective method that will encourage you to think outside the box.

Counter Example Reframes

Let’s say that you are struggling to overcome a problem. In fact, this problem seems impossible to solve. However, what if you looked for counter examples that might throw doubt on your perceptions of this problem? You could for instance chat with other people who have faced and overcome a similar problem. Or you could look to your own experience and find examples where you overcame a problem successfully. These experiences might very well allow you to see your struggles in a new light.

Positive Intention Reframes

If the problem you are experiencing is an unhelpful behavior or state-of-mind, then search for the positive intention. Every behavior has a positive intention. Understanding this positive intention can help you to see this behavior in a new light. Who knows? You might even be able to use this behavior in an advantageous way.

Importance Reframes

When faced with a problem it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the details. This can leave you feeling frustrated and disheartened. To break-free from this cycle, consider what’s most important right now that you can control and/or influence. Focusing on this one “most important” thing will immediately shift your perspective of the situation, and as a result you will no longer feel overwhelmed or frustrated.

Alternate Choice Reframes

Here you’ve locked yourself-in to looking at a problem in one specific way. You are stuck in all-or-nothing thinking. It’s either this way or it’s that way. However, there are often many more choices available. Explore these alternate choices by questioning what else might be here, what could be missing, or what other options might there be? This will force you to expand your horizons — allowing you to extinguish a stuck-state.

Perspective Reframes

Here you are shifting how you think about the problem by taking-on another perspective of the situation. You might for instance take the perspective of another person involved within the problem. Or you could take a third person’s perspective and view the problem from the perspective of someone looking-in from the outside who is not involved in the problem. And then of course you have your own perspective to consider. All three perspectives will provide you with a different viewpoint that will potentially allow you to gather unique insights to help you solve the problem.

Learning Reframes

Sometimes you might not be able to solve a problem successfully. This can be quite difficult to deal with, and it’s therefore easy to feel miserable about your life and circumstances. However, you don’t necessarily have to feel this way. You can choose to feel another way that is more optimal and helpful. No matter how badly things might have ended up, you can choose to learn from the experience and take these lessons to do better the next time around.

Humor Reframess

At times problems are difficult to overcome because we take them too seriously. We are so “worked-up” by the problem that we find it difficult to take into account the solutions and opportunities that are presented before us. In such instances it can be helpful to reframe your circumstances by making fun of them or by making fun of yourself. This will help you to relax and mentally step back from the problem. And it’s in this “relaxed state” where ideas and solutions will begin to come more freely.

All of these reframing examples provide you with a different way of looking at the same thing. This is advantageous because as your perspective of the situation shifts, you begin making different choices and decisions, and as a result you will experience vastly different outcomes in your life.


Reframing Using Representational Systems

Representational systems are the means by which we use to represent our experience of reality using our senses. These representational systems can be described as being visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

Whenever you make interpretations about the world or about your circumstances, you represent those interpretations to yourself in a very specific way. The way you represent things depends on how you visualize it, hear it, and/or feel it in your imagination. As such, the experience becomes very unique based on how you have chosen to represent it in your own mind using your senses.

Reframing can be used to help shift these representational systems in empowering ways that can help you to effectively associate or disassociate yourself emotionally from the problem or experience. This is helpful because oftentimes your emotions might be getting the better of you (e.g. overwhelm, frustration, anger, stress, etc.), and as a result it’s difficult to think through your problem in an effective way. In such instances, you can make adjustments to your representational systems in order to reframe your emotions to successfully disassociate yourself from the problem. Then once you’re no longer emotionally attached to your problem, you will be in a better position to think more clearly about your circumstances.

When you are posed with a problem you automatically create all these mental pictures in your imagination about this problem. These pictures are a certain color, intensity, shape, etc. Likewise you tend to talk to yourself in a very specific way about your problem. And as a result you end up feeling a certain way about the problem. Sometimes this feeling is good and positive, while other times you might feel rather overwhelmed, angry or frustrated. You are feeling this way because of how you have chosen to picture things in your imagination along with how you have chosen to talk to yourself (self-talk).

Because you have consciously or unconsciously chosen to feel this way, you can now consciously choose to feel another way by make adjustments to your visual cues and by reframing your internal dialogue.

Let’s say that you’re rather upset and frustrated with a specific problem. It’s obviously not helpful to feel this way if you desire to find a solution. As such, you might choose to emotionally disassociate yourself from the problem by adjusting the way you picture the problem in your imagination. You might do this by:

  • Changing the colors.
  • Adjusting the contrast.
  • Slowing down or speeding up the movements.
  • Making the picture smaller and dimmer.
  • Making the visuals more humorous.

Having made some adjustments to your visuals, it’s now time to adjust/reframe your internal dialogue. You can do this by:

  • Turning the volume down.
  • Adding funny voices or humorous music.
  • Adjusting the tone or pace of the voice.
  • Turning a negative voice into a positive voice.
  • Using milder words when describing your experience (less emotional intensity).

Once you have finished making these adjustments, put the new visual and auditory cues you created into practice by thinking about your problem in the way you just imagined. If done correctly, you should now feel rather differently about your problem. You should no longer feel upset or frustrated. You might instead feel more relaxed, more curious and maybe even excited about this problem. And because you no longer have negative emotional attachments to this problem, you should now be in a better emotional place to find an appropriate solution.

There is much more to this process, however I hope that this has provided you with some insight as to how representational systems can be used to help you reframe your life experiences and problems in more optimal ways.


How to Reframe Your Thoughts

When confronted with a limiting state-of-mind, a behavior, or a problem, use the following process to help you reframe your circumstances, thereby putting yourself in a more resourceful, empowering and helpful frame-of-mind.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Your first step is to identify the problem, state or limiting behavior that you are having difficulty with. Ask yourself:

What problem am I facing?

What unhelpful behavior am I indulging in?

What limiting state-of-mind am I experiencing?

As you ask yourself these questions, keep in mind all the negative thoughts that are currently occupying the space between your ears. These thoughts can come in the form of limiting questions you ask yourself, pessimistic self-talk, and might even manifest as uncomfortable feelings.

Your thoughts will provide you with insights as to how you tend to frame your circumstances. These frames are the things that are limiting your perspective of the situation, the behavior, or the state-of-mind. These are the frames that must be successfully “reframed” in more optimal and helpful ways that support the goals and objectives you are wanting to achieve.

Step 2: Challenge Your Assumptions

When you frame things a certain way, you are at that moment making assumptions about things. And as you know, assumptions are only your personal opinions and perspectives. However, they can also most certainly be linked to your limiting beliefs. Either way they have no basis in reality, otherwise they would be called “facts”.

Your next step is therefore to challenge the assumptions you are making. You must pose questions that will help disprove these assumptions and beliefs. You can do this by asking yourself:

What is valuable and useful about this assumption I am making?

What is useful about how I’m currently framing things?

What is unhelpful about the assumption I am making?

What is unhelpful about the way I’m framing things?

Is there any evidence that goes against this assumption?

Am I using any rules that could be challenged?

How else could I interpret this experience?

What else could this possibly mean? How could that be helpful?

At the conclusion of this questioning process you should have built-up enough of a case against the assumptions and frames you are making. As such, you are now ready to begin reframing things in ways that will help you to overcome this problem successfully.

Step 3: Reframe Your Circumstances

Your objective here is to focus on different methods of thinking about the problem. And this basically comes down to your ability to reframe things in certain ways that will help you achieve your desired outcomes.

Here are some reframing questions you might like to ask yourself:

Is this really a problem, or is it a problem because of the way I feel about this situation?

How would I deal with this situation if I were a scientist? Lawyer? Child? Man? Woman? Harry Potter?

What would someone I admire do in this situation?

What if this problem was part of a cartoon? How would the cartoon characters solve this problem?

How would I approach this situation if I only had a day to solve it? How about an hour? How about a minute?

What is the opposite to this problem? How is this of value?

What would other people do in my situation to help resolve this problem?

What advice would I give someone else who is experiencing this problem?

What would I do right now if I knew I couldn’t fail?

What is funny about this problem that I hadn’t noticed before?

What if I knew what to do right now? What would I do? What’s the best way to accomplish this?

These are all typical questions you can ask yourself that will help you to reframe the situation you are working through. Some of these questions will be more applicable to some situations and may not be relevant in other situations. You must therefore pick and choose which questions are most helpful to help you shift your perspective about the problem you are facing.

Step 4: Test the Reframe

Now, have a think about your new behavior/approach/perspective and complete the following statements:

[new perspective] allows me to…

[new perspective] provides me…

[new perspective] helps me to…

If the reframing process worked, then you shouldn’t have any trouble completing these statements. Moreover, these statements should provide you with the impetus you need to make positive changes to your life and circumstances.

This process can work well if you make it a part of your life. It might of course take some practice and a little effort at first, but eventually reframing will hopefully become a habit that you use unconsciously throughout the day. However, if at any time you do end up struggling with this process, then try and remind yourself that…

It’s not what happens to me that matters, it’s rather how I interpret things and how I decide to act on those interpretations that makes all the difference in the end.


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

How to Reframe Your Thoughts

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam’s story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.