Have you ever suddenly noticed something that is right in front of you when you start looking for it? You could have walked past it or drove past it multiple times a day and yet not see it until someone mentions it or when you go out looking for it?
Just like if I said, red cars, you are going to see more red cars on the roads than before. Yes, red cars will magically appear on the road. That is of course not true. Our minds will naturally refocus or reframe to find what we are looking for.
What are some of the things that we will find when we go looking for it?
If you are looking for trouble, you will find trouble. If you are looking for problems, you will find problems. If you are looking for the negatives, you will find the negatives. If you look for something positive, you will find the positives. If you are looking for beauty, you will find beauty.
All this is great if we are looking for the good, the positives, the beauty around us, the blessings and thanksgiving but it is not good if we are constantly on the lookout for the negatives, the “something bad will happen”, the faults in others and so on. It is unfortunate that the news that we hear, watch, or read are mostly negatives. I guess the good news are not newsworthy. After all, where is the drama if it is all good.
Have you also ever wondered how two people who could go through the same situation and yet come out of it with vastly different perspectives? One could end up being bitter and negative while the other feels grateful and thankful for the experience. The situation could be the same, but what they are looking for, is vastly different. We will find what we are looking for. Therefore, the “type” of frame that you put on will determine how you perceive the direction of your life. Your focus determines your life.
Let us challenge and reframe from negatives to positives.
I would like to challenge you to start reframing what you look out for and to be surprise with what you will find. Surprises are good and even necessary, even if you do not like surprises. You will need surprises occasionally.
To start reframing, from a negative or “problems-are-just-around-the-corner” to “there-is-always-a-silver-lining” mindset, requires 3 changes that need to occur:
1. Recognise and acknowledge your current frames.
2. Put on the new frames.
3. Look intently through the new frames.
Recognise and acknowledge your current frames.
In order to start any change process, the first step is always to recognise and acknowledge what is your current frame. To find out, think of any specific situation and ask yourself:
- How would you describe the situation and the outcome?
- Is the outcome one that is of a negative or positive perspective?
- What is your narrative?
- Does the narrative feel and sound positive or negative?
For example, if you look back at 2020, yes, the year where the global pandemic was on all of us, what is your narrative? It is all doom and gloom or is it one of grateful thanksgiving.
For many, we would describe the year as simply horrible, lockdowns, no toilet paper, lost of job and the list goes on. For others, it was getting into an opportunity that would otherwise not have happened, growing closer as a family, valuing the simple things of life, experiencing the kindness of people and that list goes on too.
For me? My narrative is that it was a year where I challenged a limiting belief of not being good enough and worked on launching a podcast. In fact, I have launched not just one podcast but two podcasts, “Lisalamcoach” and “Give Receive Improve”. I have also learned several new skills such as podcasting, writing, recording, and editing and not forgetting improving some other skills or interest such as painting, cooking, and baking. The reason? I was looking for new learnings, experiences, and growth. I was looking at making the best of the situation. I was looking for the hidden gems. And yes, I found all the things that I was looking for.
I am sure that you will discover that you have many different frames or mindsets that will either hold you back or move your forward. I would like to suggest that you start with one frame at a time. Pick the frame that you want to change first.
Put on the New Frame.
Once you have identified your current frame, the next step is to create a new frame. The new frame that you will replace your previous one with.
1. Start by asking yourself:
- What is the new frame that I want to have in place?
- What is the narrative of this new frame?
- What are the triggers to the previous frame that will trigger the replacement of the old with this new frame?
2. Write it down and make it visible. Our mind takes time to shift or to reframe. Our thought patterns need to be rewired or new paths needs to be created for our mind to view situations through a new frame. We need constant reminders and applications. We need to consistently practice the new frames.
3. Replace the old narrative with the new narrative. For example, if your previous frame was “something-bad-is-going-to-happen” and because of this frame, you find it impossible to be happy or to be grateful or to celebrate, then replace that with a frame that looks for “I am thankful for an amazing day and will celebrate it with my friends or family. I am not going to waste any precious moments.” You will probably need to do this several times a day, countless times in a week and over the course of months. Change will take place but it takes time.
Look Intentionally through the new Frame.
Intentionally think about what you are thinking about. In every situation, catch yourself. Think about what you are thinking about. Are you reframing or still looking at a situation through your old frames? Once you catch yourself, do not be hard on yourself, just reframe it to the new desired frame.
It is much easier for our minds to go back to the default mode. The neuropathways in our brains will take us down the path that is of least resistance. Therefore, thoughts that have been ingrained for a long time, will naturally be the easiest to take as it has been established. The brain is a very energy efficient organ and like all efficient organ, it does not want to do any more work than what is required. That is how habits work. It works because habits are efficient processes or it has been automated in the mind. No energy is required to build new neuropathways unlike a new thought or a new habit that you are creating.
You will therefore need to put in the work to change the old with the new frame. You will have to put the new frame on. That is right, it is not good enough to have just written it down or put-up signs or post-its to remind you of it, you will need to replace your thoughts with the new thoughts and keep on doing it. It is not a one time act, it is a long term process but it does get easier over time. I would like to encourage you to persevere and assure you that the benefit is worth the effort.
Some simple reframe examples:
- Worry: Reframe to “There is no point to worry about things that have not happened or things that I have no control over. I am going to focus on the situation now and what I can do now. I am going to enjoy the moment, be thankful for what I do have.”
- Problems: Reframe to “There are always problems but there are always solutions available as well. Therefore, I will focus on looking for the solutions and be innovate and creative in problem solving.”
- “Not good enough”: Reframe to “I am a learner. I may need to learn this new skill, but I can because I am a learner. When I put my mind to it, I can learn and with practice I can be good at it.”
For me, I have to constantly reframe whenever a thought of “I am not creative” pops into my mind. This usually happens when I am trying to paint something new, and I cannot seem to get it right. I will then reframe to “I am creative and have done some great paintings and I am going to learn how to do this. I am not going to stop learning and practicing because that I how I get better.”
When you can frame your mind to look for the treasures of the everyday, you will find the treasures of the everyday. That is where the practice of a grateful journal comes into play. The reason journaling is powerful is that it helps you to reframe to look for things to be grateful for. When you start to look for grateful things, you will be thankful and appreciative of what you have as much as what you do not have.
Let me summarise. In order to find what we are looking for, we need to:
1. Recognise and acknowledge your current frames. What is your current frame?
2. Put on the new frames. What is the new frame to replace the old frame?
3. Look intently through the new frames. Put on the new frame daily.
Thank you for the taking the time to read this article. I hope that you have learned at least one new thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life. As always, subscribe, like and share this with you friends. Take care and step into the everyday with purpose.