The Power of Reframing


Ever wondered how some people seem to have the ability to turn negatives into something positive? Why do some people seem to view life as a glass half full vs. half empty? It is not because everything is going their way. It is because they are skilled at reframing. Reframing our thoughts is a powerful tool that helps us master the current situation, as well as, shape our future responses. 

What exactly is reframing? In the sense of changing perspective, reframing is about looking at a situation, thought, or feeling from another angle. While we may not be able to change the situation, we do have control over how we look at it. We have control over the meaning that we give to the event. Reframing gives us the ability to move forward and focus our energy on productive thoughts and behaviors. 

One of my favorite examples of reframing involves my son and his first year of playing hockey. He was 10 years old and decided that he wanted to play the position of goalie. His first opportunity to be in full gear was playing in a tournament that was also the season opener. Off he went, on the ice, skating to the net to face his opponent. As a parent, it was one of the toughest moments…not knowing how things would turn out and having no control over the outcome. 

The game started and the other team scored within the first minute. From that point on it didn’t get much better. The other team kept shooting pucks at my son, and most of them ended up going into the net. Fortunately, they stop putting goals on the scoreboard once the lead gets to a certain point. By the end of the third period the final score was 16-0. Ouch. 

When the team started coming out of the locker room, I was practicing in my head what I would say to my son. The mother in me wanted to wrap my arms around him and comfort him. How could he want to go on being the goalie if this was his introduction to the season? I caught myself thinking these things and immediately thought of what I would say to a coaching client if they were facing adversity? When Nic walked out of the locker room, I had my strategy. I asked good open-ended questions: “What do you think? How did it go?”

Without missing a beat, my son looks at me and says (with enthusiasm), “Are you kidding? It was awesome! Coach says I took 67 shots on goal and only 16 got in! Look at all these marks on my pads. I look like a legit goalie now!” That comment right there is reframing at its finest! In a moment when he could have easily walked out of that locker room, head hanging down, and question the path he had chosen or quit – he did the opposite. He chose to find the positive and focus on the success of the moment. I’d be lying if I said that was not Proud Parent Moment #367!

The benefits of reframing

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! Reframing takes skill and practice. Here are the reasons to put in the work:

  •  Reframing gives you the ability to find positive meaning in the events that take place. In doing so, you can begin to remove limiting beliefs that may be holding you back. 

  • Reframing can call attention to negative thought patternsand provide opportunities to look for the gratitude and build a new pattern of positive self-talk. 

  • Positive thought patterns lead to positive energy which can motivate us to achieve greater results. 

The next time you are faced with adversity or something doesn’t go as planned, pay attention in that moment to your reaction. Look for the positive and listen to your self-talk. Yes, some pucks are going to make it in the net. Some things are out of your control. However, the one thing you always have control over is how you bounce back. Will you focus on the 16 shots that made it by you or the 51 that didn’t because you were doing your best?