Imagine yourself at a restaurant. You take a look at the menu and there are so many things you’d like to eat. An endless parade of pleasure for your palate.
But you can’t. You’re on a diet. Now, how does that make you feel?
Disappointed? Do you feel deprived of something? Does it make you want it more?
I’m guessing that you’re probably like most of us and answered “Yeah”, “Uh-huh” and “Can’t talk, busy pounding down this totes delish chocolate cake!”.
If someone says to you:
“Whatever you do, do NOT think about a dog in a sailor suit humping a giant, cross-eyed rubber duck for the next minute!”
First of all, get away from that person. And secondly you would have that image pop up several times during that minute.
This is basically what happens when we’re telling ourselves that we “can’t” have something or that we should “avoid” something. We’re actively wiring our brains to focus on that aspect of it. Thus, making it that much harder for us to exercise self control.
What if we instead focused on the things that we can have?
Now we’re taking our focus away from the “pain” and shifting it towards a more productive cause. Making a healthier choice plus taking a load off from having to think about the things we have to avoid.
Imagine that you’ve royally pissed someone off. Not naming any names, (insert passive aggressive yet joking tone here) but you know who you are.
Now you can frame it in one of two ways:
1) “Oh, jeez. I really done did make an utmost ass out of myself. I have to give them a call and make it right.”
Let’s take a look at this. First, it’s really great that Kris… I mean “the person” has seen the error of their ways. Awesome possum!
But, and this comes with a juicy ass booty for a but, the operating word here is “have”.
What happens here is that we frame it as a form of pressure on us to do something.
Now, some people perform well under pressure. But if we’re being completely honest with ourselves this isn’t necessarily how we want to feel about calling our friend.
What’s most likely to happen? We start building up the whole thing, applying even more pressure. “Oh, I hope they forgive me. Maybe I should wait until things cool down a bit more. What if they don’t, though? OMG! I haz failz so bad!”
You see where this is headed?
We procrastinate in the hopes that if we avoid it long enough then maybe it’ll work itself out. Plus, as long as we don’t face the situation it’s a kind of semi-misinterpreted version of “Schrödinger’s Cat“. The friendship is both not alright and alright at the same time.
So, what’s the second way you can reframe this? Well, much like at the restaurant, let’s see what’s on the menu!
2) “Wow, I really screwed the pooch on that one. Now, I get to give them a call and make it right.”
See the subtle change? Now the operating word is “get”.
We’ve managed to turn it into an honor, a goddamned priviledge to make amends with our friend. We can start feeling less guilty and worried simply by looking at what’s been bestowed upon us rather than seeing it as a curse.
These things take time to master, as humans we’re predisposed to naturally look for the negative things in order to avoid them. This is just our basic survival instinct kicking into gear.
Realizing that it doesn’t serve our best interests in many situations is key to navigating our world.
Also, it could help us look at our weaknesses and set up systems that make it harder for us to fail.
For example, making sure to set an alarm so that we don’t end up making people wait for a frickin’ hour and a half!
Not even mad, though. Not. Even. Mad.
What are some of the ways in which you’ve managed to reframe a situation into a more constructive one?
Let me know in the comments and hit me up on Twitter.
Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!