Reframing: Content

Create dramatic improvements in yourself and others by applying one of the most fundamental methods for getting a change in perspective. As you’ll recall, a frame in NLP is the way you limit what you consider. It’s impossible to consider every piece of information in your world in order to make a decision, so no matter what you think about anything, there is a frame. 

In Neuro Linguistic Programming we practice reframing in order to change the existing frame and get a better outcome as a result. 

Let’s use a reframe to help someone who feels very ‘defective’. They tell you that they hate getting out of bed in the morning and their self-esteem is terrible because they have no motivation. Let’s say that the person needs to realize that they are in the wrong job. 

You could ask if they’d have trouble getting out of bed if they were about to go on a vacation to their favorite place in the world. They would say that would be no problem. 

Your response: “So it isn’t that you can’t get out of bed, it’s that you’re still in that crappy job.” Now the issue is not that the person is defective, but that they need to mobilize their resources for job or career change. 

We got there by expanding the frame to include situations in which they could easily get out of bed.

Here is another example. In this one, we actually state the bad frame out loud, and let the person recognize what’s wrong with it: A smoker says he thinks he doesn’t need to be a purist, even though he has been quitting smoking. He feels there’s no harm in a few drags once in a while. He needs to recognize that he has created a false frame of control to under-define a deadly addiction. 

If you say, “So you have complete control over tobacco now, then,” he is likely to say something like, “No way, I’m all or nothing, that would get me smoking again in no time!” 

It’s helpful when the person states the reframe on their own, since they feel ownership. 

For the following steps, we are going to use a pattern of behavior of yours that you don’t care for, but you can reframe anything.

Select a behavior you dislike.

Select a pattern of behavior of yours that you don’t care for.

Identify the part.

Note the aspect of you that produces this behavior. Think in terms of parts. Name that part.

Identify the positive intention.

Figure out the part’s positive intent in producing this behavior.

Identify the frame.

What is the frame around the intention and behavior? 

You can see this by discovering the presuppositions behind the part’s sense of mission and its behavior in service of that mission (In the examples we provided, one person thought he was defective because he couldn’t get out of bed, and another seemed to think he had complete control over tobacco in order to justify a small amount of smoking).

De-frame the part. 

As we ask in the De-framing pattern, how can you expand the part’s perspective? 

Try to find sub-modality shifts that will have an impact on this. 

You can also ask what the behavior and intentions mean to you. You can simply ask, “What else could this mean?”

Reframe the behavior and intention (content).

Find the way, however slight, that you can react positively to the part’s intentions or to the behavior.

Reframe the usefulness in terms of situations (context). 

How might this behavior actually serve you in some situation? Connect with how this might feel good or appropriate. 

Remember that the behavior may need to take a different form, or even cease, depending on what it is. 

You may also find that the underlying motivations can be expressed very differently, so that the behavior is easy to change or eliminate once you learn to satisfy the underlying motivation.

Integrate the reframe.

Give yourself permission to make use of this new reframe. Although you may not approve of the way the intention is expressed in some situations, you can now make a good connection with the reframe, because it highlights the positive aspect of the behavior. 

Think of ways that you can express the motivation in a more useful way, or that you can direct the behavior in a more useful way.

Test the reframe.

How do you feel now when you think of the behavior? 

How do you feel about the part? 

If your self-esteem has improved or you feel less in conflict with yourself, that is a good sign that the pattern has been useful. 

If you have actually come up with a revolutionary and positive way to utilize the underlying motivations; that’s even better.

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