Reframing in NLP is a core element. It’s a simple yet powerful process that can mean the difference between you have a stressed and uptight life or one much more enjoyable one. Seriously, it really is that good. And the great news is, you’ll already do this in some shape or form. 

You can use reframing is a situation when you feel powerless or angry, as it helps to empower you by changing the meaning of the experience. Let’s say, for example, that your relationship ends—that seems awful, but try to see it from different perspectives.

When faced with a real challenge we often already reframe, but to our detriment. Questions like:

“She’s left me because I’m worthless”
“She knows I’m not good enough”

Will make us feel really bad.

What is reframing in NLP?

In it’s most basic form, reframing is simply guessing again!
Back to the relationship example, ask yourself now, why are you now a better person now that the relationship has ended?
Or,
Now the relationship has ended, what can you now have or do that you couldn’t before?
What do you know because of that relationship?

I remember a few years back and I had a client come to see me for road rage. This was proper road rage, every journey he had was an anger filled event.

Anyway, the chap arrived 10 minutes late, slammed his car door and stormed into my office. He went on to explain he was late because some woman didn’t get going at the lights and they went red before he had a chance to go.

So I asked him, “what may have caused her to not go?”
He said “It was almost as if she was just trying to get in the way. Like she’d been put there to make him late.” Interesting I thought. Even I can see how that may make a person a little angry, Getting in my way on purpose would get my back up for sure. But, in this case, we now know the anger is fulled from a “Guess” and a “Fabrication” of what was going on. The truth, unfortunately, we will never know.

So in a nutshell, this man made himself angry, by guessing something most probably not true and held onto that. Now, this is a perfect time to reframe.

We’re aiming to create possibility in what could have happened.  

Here are some examples of what we could say:

‘Perhaps she was lost and was reading her map on her knee”

“Perhaps she was very old and frightened on traffic lights”

“Could she have had car issues not pulling away?”

“She may be on the way to a funeral and is crying so she missed the change of lights”

Now, notice your response to those statements. Some create more questions and frustration, some may make you feel guilty, some neutral but plausible.

But, I knew with this particular character I needed to go extreme. Extreme anger needed another extreme response.

So I said “She’d probably split a cup of coffee in her lap and burnt her bits” 

As soon as I’d said that, my client went from red-faced angry to red face crying with laughter. That reframe transformed his view. As this was a possibility for him too, it was accepted and he loved it.

Reframing is nothing more than having another guess. We know by now that we all have our own map of the world, so we never really know, even when we do know. 

So, when faced with any situation that frustrates, makes you angry or disempowers. Ask yourself a question to reframe the situation and generate a new outcome for yourself. What else could it mean? is the best question to get the reframing muscle working. And how do you know you’re doing it well, you feel better.

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