Reframes are an incredible anomaly. A positive one can lift you up when you are down, help you look at a situation from a different perspective, make you realize you do have potential when you thought you didn’t, or encourage you to do something you thought was not attainable. It changes your thought process into one of enhanced possibility instead of fear, anxiety, self-doubt, or hopelessness.
A negative reframe could shatter dreams as confidence is lost in themselves from harsh words just said. It may stop a person from taking a chance in something they believed in, fear may be instilled where there was none, or embarrassment and shame may over power what was supposed to be a proud moment.
When I was in grade one or kindergarten a teacher gave me an assignment. Being a perfectionist even at 5 or 6 years old, I was horribly upset that I did not know the answer. How could this happen? How could I not give an intelligent response to a question and why did my parents not prepare me for this.
The question was, what did I want to be when I grew up? More specifically, since I was a girl, what is a woman’s job that I would like to do? I didn’t know there was a distinction, and could not answer. My Mother and Father always told me I could be and do what ever it is I wanted when I became an adult. I could even be a fire’man’. The world had changed and I was so lucky that there was no difference between my brother and I. A woman could be what she desired, just as a man could. It was not prejudice to my brother having a set of occupations to choose from, with me having a different set. The question my teacher asked did not resonate with me.
A little frustrated with my slow response, the teacher began offering suggestions. What does my mother do? What do the women in the school I attend do? Does my father have women working ‘for’ him. The pressure to provide an answer was quite intense. Anxiously I went over the hints in my mind. I was not interested in what my mother did for a living, and surely did not want to be a teacher; especially like the one that was blowing apart my future hopes. That left the clue which included my father. Yes, he had a secretary. That was my answer.
I did not go home happy, I went home quite deflated. It really effected me to think how my life was full of incredible choices and limitless potential before, had shrunk down to just a secretary; one opportunity instead of everything. At 5 or 6 years old I felt the world’s weight on me since my beliefs had been taken by my teacher. They were supposed to guide us to adulthood were they not? It never dawned on me that maybe, she was wrong. She had unintentionally, and negatively, reframed me.
A reframe is a powerful opportunity to alter another’s perspective or personal thought. It can change one’s internal representation immediately by offering a completely different angle on a situation. In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) one of the many talents a Master Practitioner has is their unique ability to reframe their clients to enhance their belief system. When beliefs are changed into believing they can, it will jump-start their potential, and ignite their behavior, so they will achieve the results the client desires.
A reframe used in an NLP Breakthrough Session is a meaning reframe. This is when you take the belief, keep it in the same setting, and view it from a different angle. When someone says the glass is half empty, you respond, actually, it is half full. The amount of water in the glass never changed, it is all perception. Another example - I do not want to exercise, I’m too tired. What an excellent way to increase your energy. The purpose of a reframe is to alter the belief into supporting one’s goals and leave behind the ones that limit your potential.
A context reframe is when you take a situation from one environment and drop it into another. By giving it a different setting, it changes the meaning behind it. Ask yourself, what is a different way I can look at this? Perhaps you have a child that has a seemingly strong stubborn streak that challenges you. Won’t that strength be of value in the future when he/she doesn’t cower to abusive potential behavior from others as an adult?
3M has a popular context reframe that is worth sharing for those who may be unfamiliar with it. Chemists, Spence Silver and Art Fry, were working with experiments to concoct a polymer which would have a permanent hold; a superglue if you will. When the testing began, the exact opposite was achieved and the glue did not stick very well at all. With their perseverance, they created the 3M Post it. Same product in a different situation was an extreme success.
At home that evening, my father asked me how my day at school was. Putting on my best front, proudly I told him that when I grew up, I was going to be a secretary - just like he had. With a giggle, he looked at me asking why. I shared the woman’s job question poised to me at school that day and how confusing it was that he did not tell me there was a difference.
What transpired next was the most empowering moment of my childhood. My Dad looked at me and gave the best meaning reframe ever! “Why be the secretary. Why not have your own secretary?”. I responded in personal amazement, “Really? I can have my own secretary?”. With a big smile on his face, he said “Yes. You can have your own secretary.”
My hopes for my future were immediately restored to overabundance. I felt light again, hopeful again, and so happy I talked to the most incredible man in my life, my Dad. If he said I could not only be a secretary, I was good enough to actually have my own, it must be true. Thank you so much for the memorable moment.

Author's Bio: 

Joanne Vermeulen is a Trainer and Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and Hypnotherapy residing in Scheveningen, The Netherlands. She is currently finishing her first novel, and has a home business offering life-changing NLP Breakthrough Sessions.