Ladies: Have you ever noticed how different contexts bring different meaning to situations? Basically, if you change the context, you can change the meaning. For example, in some parts of Europe, a guy wearing a bright red speedo won’t turn too many heads. In Montana, a guy wearing a bright red speedo would probably be received a completely different way. Different meaning is assigned to the same dude in that sexy red speedo.
We constantly assign meaning to everything, every day. I could wake up and see the sun shining bright, and decide that means it’s a perfect day to wear a bikini and jump into the pool; or I could decide that means I’m going to be miserably hot all day and won’t be able to focus on my work.
So this begs the question: how often do we end up assigning negative meaning to what’s going on around us? We could think of it as seeing the glass as half full or half empty, but it goes beyond that. The meaning we assign to whatever happens around us either increases or depletes the richness of our lives. And hey, it’s only natural to think in terms of risk, loss, and what could potentially go wrong. That’s built in to our brains for safety and survival. However, if we dwell on those things, we develop a low-energy way of thinking that feeds a low-energy way of being…and that, my friends, is a big bummer for everyone who has to interact with you. So let’s talk about reframing meaning. This idea of reframing involves putting a different context around your situation in order to shift the way you think and experience that situation.
There are three key ways to reframe:
The first is to step into an “as-if” frame, where you explore future options as if they’ve already happened and you’ve achieved the outcome you want. This allows you to look back on what you did to get there.
The second strategy is to use contrast, where you compare two different experiences. This helps you to discover new things by finding out what made a difference in another situation that you may be able to apply to your current situation.
The third, and my personal favorite, is the outcome frame. This frame shifts the attention to the outcome you want, instead of the problem. Remember: where focus goes, energy flows!
Reframing and assigning different meaning to whatever we’re experiencing helps us create more empowering stories about ourselves and our lives. The next time you’re faced with an inconvenient, irritating, or outright crummy situation, ask yourself, “What is the meaning of this?” And then, you get to decide.