In my recent post about Conversational Agility, which is the ability to reframe, redirect and refocus a conversation so the discussion is both constructive and stays on topic, one reader commented, "I think just acknowledging that reframing is a thing helps us uncouple from the current frame just a little."
Her comment struck me as profound and begged me to ponder the practice of reframing more. There's power in first "acknowledging that reframing is a thing." But it doesn't stop there, reframing is a skill that can best be developed through personal reflective practices like journaling.
Reframing is the ability to shift and expand one's perspectives so you see things differently.
There are a lot of opportunities to practice reframing throughout the day. The next time someone does not respond to your email in a timely fashion or cuts you off while driving, pay attention to your initial response. Then ask yourself, what if there's another way to look at this? In the moment shifts like that can allow us to reclaim our power by reducing the effects of stress.
But making in the moment shifts like that can be hard, especially when our default responses are deeply ingrained in our wiring through repetition over years.
That's where journaling becomes a powerful tool for leveling up.
My own journaling practice began in earnest when I was in high school. I typically wrote when I was experiencing a mental or emotional cyclone inside me that was wreaking havoc. Journaling was a, effective and healthy way of releasing the tension that was building up. Inevitably, I felt an immense sense of relief, because it was in the pages of my journal that I was able to ponder questions that helped me to shift and expand my perspective. I didn't know it at the time but I was laying down the pathways for reframing in my mind with each entry.
As I like to say, Journaling can help us to SEE things differently. And in seeing things differently, we are more equipped at overcoming obstacles and problems that before seemed impossible to deal with.
There are three simple steps you may utilize as prompts in the pages of your journal to enable you to SEE things differently and cultivate your skills for reframing problems or situations from a negative to a positive.
Step 1 Story
The first step is write out the story you are telling yourself. Some people balk when I suggest that because they're "not storytellers." You don't have to be a master storyteller to do this part.
Reflect on this question: what are your thoughts, attitudes, feelings and beliefs about this situation?
Then write what comes to mind, without filtering or editing yourself.
Step 2 Explore
Once you've captured your story, it's time to act like an explorer and seek out other perspectives you may consider for yourself.
Reflect on this question: What's another way of looking at this situation or problem?
Continue writing and letting new ideas flow. Consider putting yourself in someone else's shoes and looking at it from their point of view.
Step 3 Experiment
The real power in learning is when a new idea changes our behavior. And when we approach such changes as experiments it frees us up to try things on without placing unrealistic expectations to get it perfect the first time.
Reflect on this question: How might you experiment with approaching this situation or problem differently?
As you conclude your journaling, make a commitment to yourself about the experiment you will do.
The more we practice and hone our abilities to reframe a situation or problem the better equipped we are to deal with it in a constructive way. In most cases, the story we are telling ourselves is the greatest obstacle we face of all.
Want to journal more but are wondering if you're doing it right? Get support and guidance to level up your practice at our next Journal Jam on February 3rd. More information and registration is available online here.