Framing and Reframing Your Successes and Failures

By: Oz Merchant, C.ht., Nlp Trainer & Coach

I don't get around to watching too much television. But the other night a movie called Deuce Bigelow, Male Gigolo was on. Now I know that some of you who may have never heard of this movie may have some interesting pictures running through your minds. But it is actually just a comedy film, and a surprisingly good one at that. He is basically a gigolo for the under privileged. His clientele include an 8-foot giant woman, to a woman with narcolepsy, and another woman with turrets. But instead of having sex with any of these women, he teaches them how to appreciate their differences and feel better about themselves.

The one scene that really stands out in my mind is the lady with the Tourette's Syndrome (when someone will shout out obscene expletives). She admits to him that she can't go around churches, or the elderly, or around schools, and she is basically limited to her home. So what does Deuce do? A brilliant context reframe. I'll explain what this is in a minute. He comes up with the idea to take her to a baseball game. And when her turrets kicks in, she begins to get the crowd worked up, and they all start shouting with her. It really was brilliantly simple.

So what is framing and reframing? We constantly put frames around the things we do and the things we believe. Consider how you view your previous successes and failures. What kind of frame did you put around it? Was it a useful one?

I remember talking to my wife about learning to drive, and it was interesting to hear her say that when she was first learning, her frame was "I'll never get this!" Whereas mine was, "Oh this is a cinch!" Two completely different frames and as a result two different behaviors occurred.

It took her quite a bit longer to drive a car. As we talked some more, I realized that there were differences in our mistakes as well. When she made a mistake, she would say, "Oh great I did it again!" Whereas I would say, "Oh I need to remember to do that (the right way) next time!" And I usually did.

Reframing is changing frames that have already been created. Now some of you maybe thinking, well isn't that kind of like lying. Well you have to realize that your initial perception was not really the "truth" to begin with. It was just how you framed it at the time. If it wasn't useful, then change it now. When I first learned about reframing, I utilized it to help her with her original frame she had about her driving ability. Now notice this often happens. She went from framing her experience of driving to her ability of driving. Now she had a less than useful frame of her driving ability. It had gotten to a point where this frame was making her accident prone. She would always avoid the interstate too. So I took her to an empty parking lot one evening and in thirty minutes taught her to drive my manual shift car. And as she began developing new beliefs about her driving abilities and while having a positive driving experience, I looked over at her as she came to a stop and all I said was "How much easier will driving your car feel?" She looked back at me, smiling, and said, "Yeah!" That is all it took. She reframed all her previous perceptions of her skills and abilities about driving and made them more useful.

You can either reframe the context or the content. When you reframe the context, you find a particular context in which the belief or behavior is more useful. You want to ask yourself "When/Where would this behavior/belief be useful?" When you reframe the content or meaning, you change the meaning of the particular belief or behavior. You may want to ask yourself questions like, "What else could this mean?" "What is the positive value of this behavior?" "How else could I describe this behavior?"

Examples of Context Reframes:

=> Instead of procrastinating getting started cold calling, procrastinate stopping cold calling.

=> Instead of eating to fill emotional needs, eat only when you feel really hungry.

=> Instead of relieving stress by smoking, relieve stress by going for a jog or spend an hour in the Jacuzzi.

Examples of Content Reframes:

=> Don't sell people on the benefits of your products, help them buy the benefits your product offers.

=> Working hard doesn't lead to success, working smart does.

=> Strong leaders tell their troops to advance backwards, never retreat.

Start playing with the frames you have about your successes and failures and begin to make them more useful. Remember to keep the lessons you originally learnedFeature Articles, but what else could all your previous frames mean. How much more can you learn now!

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