Focus: To learn how to change the frame around the same situation to help your clients see better how to achieve their goals.
An advantage or disadvantage is determined by the frame, in which it is understood. Reframing literally means to put a different or new frame around an experience or event. An embarrassing moment may feel awful in the time ‘frame’ of a day but it can seem insignificant in the time ‘frame’ of a lifetime.
We take events, experience them, and generalise meaning from them. Our generalisation and distortions determine the ‘frame’ that we set and this helps us form our mental map, which directly influence our responses and behaviours. If our generalisations and distortions are never challenged then we can cease to learn anything new and can stay entrenched on our mental maps for good – or for worse.
When an individual feels ‘stuck’, it can be because they are only considering their situation within a certain ‘frame’. As a coach, if we can offer a different ‘frame’ of thought, then we can introduce movement and direction to the client’s thinking and, therefore, their behaviours.
The purpose of a contextual reframe is to help someone realise that the perceived negative behaviour could prove useful in another context. Richard Bandler, famously said, never waste a compulsion or an addiction. If we direct our compulsions towards a healthy behaviour, like exercising, then a compulsion can be useful.
The content remains the same, but the context changes. A downpour of heavy rain can be disappointing on a mid August afternoon in Great Britain but it can be welcomed in a country, which has been suffering weeks of draught.
This involves shifting our perception or meaning of a situation in the same context.
The context remains the same but the content changes. Consider an empty field. To a farmer it provides an opportunity to plant crops, to a young couple it provides a place to picnic, to a developer it provides a place to build and to a pilot running out of fuel, it provides a place of safety to land. Different mental maps, with different ‘frames’ of thought, perceive the same ‘content’, field, differently.
The content is the same; the only thing that has changed is the ‘frame’ in which it is being perceived.
These are examples of different ‘meanings’ that have been taken from the same perceived behaviour. We can put a more positive or negative slant on a behaviour by simply changing the language that applies to that situation, in other words, changing the content. As a coach, it is useful to put a more positive slant on a client’s thinking, when they might otherwise, be thinking negatively.
A person who is assertive could be considered confident or aggressive
A person who is frugal could also be considered wise or stingy
A person who is stable, could be considered responsible or boring
A person who is playful could be considered flexible or insincere
A person who is compassionate could be considered a pushover
A person who has reconsidered could have gone back on his word
If the answer to any of the above questions is, “I don’t know” then there you have the problem and it is essential to work on the level above if change is to take place. You can ask:
If you were to guess, what would you say?
Is there anyone else who does know?
If you did know what would you say?
Be persistent with your questioning. The solutions are in there somewhere and the questions will find them eventually. Once you have an answer move on up to the next level until all levels have been explored.
It could be said that, when we are operating in a purposeful way, we are unstoppable. All of our neurological levels are aligned and we have discovered a meaning or mission to link to our actions.
One of the NLP Presuppositions we reviewed in lesson one was,
All behaviour has, or once did have, a positive intention: Everyone makes the best choices available to them at the time. Even though our behaviour might not always be the most appropriate, it will serve a positive intention, or at some time did.
Even when someone is performing, what may seem like, destructive or self-sabotaging behaviours that cause shame, anger or guilt, we can presuppose that there is, or once was, a positive intention behind that behaviour. At such times the behaviour appears to be directly in conflict with that person’s values. For instance, someone may want to be healthy, lean and fit but they conflict with these goals by smoking, overeating or watching TV when they really could be exercising. This can cause some internal conflict and a battle or wills between our best and worst intentions.
It is therefore essential that we help our client’s to retrieve the positive intention behind their behaviour, so that not only they can forgive themselves, they can also explore alternative approaches to fulfilling that intention. Using the example of smoking, we could ask,
“WHAT IS THE POSITIVE INTENTION BEHIND SMOKING?” “WHAT BENEFIT DO YOU GET FROM DOING THAT?”
It is often that the positive intention behind smoking is to ‘relax’ or calm down. In this case, it is then useful to explore other ways of relaxing or feeling calm. Having at least three other ways of fulfilling this intention will allow flexibility in the choice of future behaviours and provide us with a way to resolve internal conflict of values by separating the problematic behaviour from the intention.
Very often we can hear people saying:
On one hand I.... then on the other hand...
Part of me wants to... but another part of me........
I’m in two minds about this
I feel pulled in different directions
It is at times like these that we have two or more ‘parts’ making themselves known. We can think of parts as ‘aspects’ of our personality. These ‘parts’ can have their own character and values and can seem to battle against each other, which causes internal conflict.
By getting in contact and communicating with our client’s ‘parts’ we can explore the causes and intentions behind their sabotaging behaviour. The 6 Step Reframe is a simple exercise, which helps us to make contact with our client’s ‘parts’, understand the intent of their negative behaviour and explore positive, alternative ways of fulfilling that intent.
Time is a very basic element of organising our experiences and our memories. We will often think about things in a certain time ‘frame’.
Anxiety and fear appear when our thoughts are future based. Guilt and shame show up when our thoughts are past based. These emotions have no meaning outside of a time ‘frame’.
Time seems to fly when we are engaged in something interesting but it seems to drag when we allow ourselves to get bored.
Many people will protest of a lack of time. “I haven’t got time to exercise” is a common complaint. The fact is, that we all have the SAME amount of time. We all have 24 hours in each day. A great ‘reframe’ to offer here is:
“Time is a given, we can’t manage time, we can only manage our priorities”
This loosens up a person’s thinking towards managing their actions and ‘to do’ list, rather than trying to manage something which is intangible, such as time.
Our memories tend to be arranged in a pattern of time also. When we think about the past and present, we will consider it to be in front, behind or to the left or right of us.
When we are standing on our Timeline, with the future in front of us, and the past behind us, we are thinking in time. Characteristics of in time thinking are:
Feel emotions very strongly and associated in memories
Good at living in the moment and being present
Prefer to keep options open
Are often late – really late – 15 minutes late is on time!
Good at multi-tasking and can stay focused in chaotic surroundings
When we are stood off our line with the future and past to the right and left of us, we are thinking Through Time. Characteristics of Through Time thinking are:
Natural time keepers, keeping track of time easily
Goal and task oriented
Good at planning activities
Have difficulty being present in the moment, and in being spontaneous
Dissociated from memories and emotions
It can be useful to be able to switch from being In time to through time and visa versa. If we want to be more in time and present at home, spending quality time with the family, then we can imagine our timeline is laid out on the other side of your front door and that we walk onto it as we enter our home.
If we want to be better timekeepers and planners, then we can step off our line, to one side and be more through time. Being flexible with this is exercising one of the important four pillars of NLP.
Past, Present & Future
When people make limiting belief statements about themselves such as, “I’ll never be slim” or “I’mreally bad at running” then these statements are based on some past experiences or memories that support these claims. In other words, thoughts are focussed on the past.
When people are feeling anxious or nervous they are usually thinking about what might happen to them. In other words, thoughts are focussed on the future.
World-class performers in sport, business and in life are able to be present, in the moment. When Tiger Woods hits a shot, he is fully associated in the present moment and focussed on detail. When David Beckham takes a free kick, he is fully associated in the present moment. In moments where it is important to perform at our best, it is essential to be fully associated in the present.
Creating a Compelling Future
Actively using a timeline can help to ensure successful completion of our client’s well- formed outcomes. The more compelling their goals and outcomes are, the more likely they are to achieve them. For it to most effective, we need to:
Be very clear about WHEN they want their outcome to happen or start happening
Help them to be fully associated in the event, describing it with peak submodalities
Ask them to provide the fullest and richest description of our outcome
Once they have done this, step out of the outcome and become dissociated.
Tad James (1988), founder of Time Line Therapy®, says that ‘A future memory that is associated is an outcome or goal. A memory that is dissociated is a direction. Dissociated is more compelling because you need not have the feelings of already having it.’