Reframing is powerful, even if doing it sometimes feels like pulling your feet out of mud. We think our perceptions are TRUTH, when they are no more than our translation. Think of any two people describing a single event, particularly one some time ago. You wouldn’t believe they were in the same place – witness hot arguments about family history.
Reframing has helped me a lot with pain. I don’t mean pretending it is fun or redefining it as God’s will. In his book, Son Rise, Barry Neil Kaufmann puts it very simply: look at what is bothering you and admit that how you see it isn’t working for you. Ask yourself: is there a better way for me to look at it? Try an alternative belief and see how the situation changes, how you are able to move forward.
He describes a racist remark to two sisters: one felt demeaned; the other remarked how miserable the speaker looked. Same incident but coded differently and where would they move on from there? On two diverging paths: one seeing slights, the other shrugging them off.
Today, I tried reframing my limited scope. My back works if I chop and change. I need to, for example, cut supper vegs for a short time, then answer a few emails, then lie down. This peripatetic existence means I seldom finish things. My desk is full of half checked bank statements, my in-box is overflowing. And cooking is done in short bursts.
At first, I saw my limitations through the lens of failure: I can’t do …And these piled up as the day wore on, like brick walls wherever I turned. When I rested, often my back throbbed so much that my eyes felt swollen and my head confused. No way I could dabble in higher mathematics or philosophy to pass the time – in fact, my days often felt full of a series of nothings, as I played sudoku or patience on my iTouch.
Could I reframe the story? Forced cheerfulness and endless effort to make my life sound less pathetic to myself – it doesn’t really convince me and is so tiring. I am not the only one. I recognize the over-eager cheer a mile off.
What about seeing the enforced rests as treats not punishment? To approach them as moments of peace, like drops of water on an overheated day. Small oases of perfection. And I noticed how good it felt to take the weight off my back and sink into the bed, rather than an interruption or limitation.
Reframe as how lucky I am being able to stop, to be kind to my body, to savour quiet. Now at the end of the day, looking back perhaps I will no longer see a series of frustrations but reflective pools of peace.
Son Rise by Barry Neil Kaufman
ReFraming: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Transformation of Meaning by Richard Bandler and John Grinder.