• Most of us have heard the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I’m not sure who came up with that saying but I can assure you it wasn’t a therapist. Not only is it not true, but I’d argue that words probably cause more damage in the long run. Bones will eventually heal but psychological scars often go untreated and can last a lifetime.  If I had to pick one area that has the potential to improve all relationships, and all behaviors, it would be the use of reframing.  Reframing is a when you replace the negative context or connotation of a word or phrase with a more positive perspective or outlook.  Sounds very technical and confusing, but it basically means to put a positive spin on something.  Why?  Because reframing has the power to make people more productive, functional and happy.

    But it is worth the effort because reframing has helped me overcome resistance and has worked wonders for redirecting my children.

    We know that words can cause an immediate psychological and physical reaction.  Need proof?  Just watch people who are embarrassed in public. Their faces flush, discomfort is clear in their expressions, and they may get sweaty. What you cannot see is their hearts racing, the sick feeling in their stomachs and the sadness or discomfort they are feeling. The same can happen in private and personal settings, which is why it is important to be conscious of how you speak to your spouse, children, friends, or boss. The tone and perspective you use can make the difference between a positive response and one of defiance and/or resentment. Reframing not only helps you in dealing with others but can change how you see things within yourself. If you don’t succeed at a task and see it as a failure you can easily feel down on yourself.  If you don’t succeed at that same task and see it as practice then you will feel motivated.  Just changing your perspective improves your self-esteem and allows you to treat a misstep as a learning experience. Not only will you not feel as badly, but you are more likely to try again. The more comfortable you are with “failing” and making mistakes the more you’ll learn and the faster you’ll become successful.

    Attitude and perception are a huge part of reframing.  The general rule is to try to change an experience’s negative connotation to a positive one. It can certainly be challenging if you’re in an emotionally charged situation. I have to remind myself daily, if not hourly to keep this in mind. But it is worth the effort because reframing has helped me overcome resistance and has worked wonders for redirecting my children.  Perspective and presentation make all of the difference. It is not always easy and sometimes takes patience and creativity, but the payoff is huge.  It will improve others’ (especially your children’s) motivation to comply, improve your own outlook, and save you energy in the long run.

    My Top Ten Favorite Reframe Examples

    1. 1. Fails – Learns
    2. 2. Constantly bothers me – Cares about me
    3. 3. Bored – Quiet time to pursue my hobbies
    4. 4. Stubborn – Dedicated and loyal
    5. 5. Mad – This is important and worth caring for
    6. 6. Impulsive – Spontaneous and quick on their feet
    7. 7. Hyperactive – Has a lot of Energy
    8. 8. Spaced out – Pensive and thinking to themselves
    9. 9. Lazy – Hasn’t found something interesting yet
    10. 10.Irresponsible – Wants to learn how to organize and prioritize