Reframing – Episode 012


Hi there! I’m Shayne Sullivan.

Thanks for joining me again at After The Waiting Room.

Today I’d like to talk about reframing and why it’s such a wonderful tool to have in your repertoire of strategies you can use to keep you in control of the reality you make up for yourself.

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Reframing is a way of looking at things differently.

The trick is knowing when it’s time to do so.

If you find yourself looping in a mind pattern that may sound something like “poor me” or “all is lost”, it may be time to step back from the situation and ask yourself, “What else could this mean for me?”

Remembering that we can create more outlooks and choices about how we feel every moment.

I’m not to say it’s a bad thing to feel sad or angry or anything else! 

All our emotions are there to serve us and to give us the variety of life we so richly deserve.

They are all part of the fabric of life.

It’s when we keep looping back to more negative states of being that it’s a clue that maybe it’s become a habit to feel that way. We’re not really conscious that we’re doing it.

We may also observe that someone other than ourselves is doing it too and you’ll recognise it because it’s part of your own pool of experiences you’ve had yourself.

I recently had a conversation with one of my clients and how this client turned things around to look at things differently.

This young girl was feeling a bit low emotionally and physically after being “up” for quite some time.

She was in a bit of a slump after her last lot of her many treatments.

She was missing her home, her family and friends and all the things a 25-year-old would normally do.

She wanted to get back to her sport, her job, which she absolutely love, and to a sense of normality.

It was a busy time of year and she was missing out on all the social events in her calendar.

When she did join in she tired easily and had to “pike” it and go to bed.

She said she was finding it hard to stay “up” when she knew she had to front up for the next round of treatment.

She was getting fed up and restless and miserable.

Her hair was now all gone and she had to be careful where she went, avoiding crowded shopping centres and asking family members and friends who had colds to stay away.

“Yes”, I agreed with her, “It can be really tough and so frustrating being hooked up to the good stuff!”

I was referring to the pole where her chemo bag was hanging.

“And that 5 legged dance partner and drink waiter of yours has really got to step up! What’s his name by the way?”

She’d actually given the pole a name. She said, “Pete the pole dancer!”

“Well, just make sure that what he’s serving you is the best stuff out, and it seems to have packed a punch!”

After she had got all her woes off her shoulders, all while I was giving her a gentle massage, she then had a shift in her thinking.

She said, “You know I suppose I’m really lucky in a way. At least I know my diagnosis.”

“There’s people out there walking around, maybe feeling unwell, not realising that they have cancer.

At least now I know and I’m doing something about it and when all this is over, I can really do the things I’ve always wanted to do but I was too scared to do them.

Actually, I’m very lucky because I’ve met all these wonderful people who I would never otherwise have met.”

And she thought about it and said, “Although I may not use the work “ lucky” maybe I’ll change it to “fortunate”.

She also added that all the little “niggly” things that used to annoy her, didn’t any more!

Reframing is a neat way to turn seemingly hopeless situations around to work for you better instead of being stuck in the old  “poor me” scenario.

And that’s exactly what she did without even knowing what reframing was!

I asked her if she was making any plans for when she finished all her treatment.

Had she thought about a reward for herself, something to look forward to?

She said she was looking forward to getting back to her sport, her work, and some travel which she had to put off.

Of course, she’d do all these things when she was well enough, so she could really enjoy it. 

She already knew what it was like to ignore what her body was telling her and that was probably why she was feeling so low because she pushed herself too hard to appear “normal” in other people’s eyes.

That was another reframe.

She wasn’t broken. She just hadn’t listened to her body.

We both agreed on how clever our minds and our bodies were when we apparently overstep the mark when our bodies are especially healing.

She also said she had little rewards planned for herself at intervals along the way.

Don’t we all deserve some sunshine at the end of a hard slog?

She had just done a wonderful turn around in her perception of her situation and reframed it to boost herself up instead of weighing her down.

It’s amazing how we can change our outlook by simply taking a step back and look at things from a different angle, giving us different possibilities where before there seemed like none.

You can also assist others around you to reframe so that their situation seems brighter, especially if they’re looping in outlooks that aren’t working for them.

Holding space with them and coming from a place of love and support is far more effective to assist change, instead of criticism of their efforts or their “stuckness”.

Having more choice in our lives can lead to decisions which ease our way, instead of doing life as a struggle.

And, sometimes it’s being available to hold that space and letting others talk it all though.

When I was with my client, I offered no conversation as such. 

All I did for the majority of our time together was to listen.

It’s amazing what we can create when we are given the space to say how we feel in a safe environment, and when we are able to do so, we usually come up with our own solutions and insights about ourselves and others and reframing is part of that process.

I hope you have an opportunity to have fun with reframing in your own lives, noticing when you and others around you do.

Until next time, don’t just exist, live life!

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