The Power of Reframing and Intention for a New You
by MARY JOYE, LMHC
At some time in your life, you have probably reframed a painting or photograph and it changed your perspective entirely on the work. It may have caused you to appreciate the painting or photo more. Something as simple as changing a frame can elevate your emotions. It was your intention to update the frame and enhance the artwork, but it did much more.
The same is true of reframing your life. Emotional moments can become the momentum of looking at things in a more positive light. The term “reframe” in psychology is used as a word to describe a tool of changing your mindset. Cognitive behavioral therapy means when you change your thoughts, your behaviors change. Reframing is one way to change your thoughts and become more aware of how they are affecting your life.
An example of reframing would be how many of us say “I must LOSE WEIGHT!” Lose is a negative word, but reframed say, “I want to GAIN HEALTH.” Gain sounds less punitive and more helpful to the brain and prevents self-sabotaging. Instead of looking at a diet as deprivation and starvation, you have reframed healthy eating habits as a sustainable choice.
You can reframe anything in your life, including trauma. Trauma, as tragic as it is, teaches us lessons. It gives us more intuition and compassion for others who have suffered something negative. This is why group therapy for those in similar situations such as PTSD, alcoholism or grief is so helpful. Trauma can make people feel estranged from others but when a like-minded group comes together to process and reconceptualize negative events, change occurs from the connections. Sharing and caring works in groups and in individual therapy because the intention is to be supportive in a nonjudgmental environment.
Yes, it is said the road to Hades is paved with good intentions, but that is in a more cynical context than therapeutic intention. An example of elevated intention is much like reframing. Instead of correcting someone and making them afraid, you can change the intention. This is how a negative correction vs. positive protection would sound.
You are correcting and judging someone if you say, “If you go back to that person, you are just asking for trouble and don’t come running to me if your heart gets broken. I may never speak to you again if you do.”
The positive protection alternative is to say, “I want to be supportive and hope your decision to be with this person doesn’t harm you like it has in the past. I care about you and want what is best for you. I think you know deep in your heart this person does not have your best interests at heart. I wish you the best and hope we can maintain a good connection with each other.”
The first statement feels judgmental and has an ultimatum of abandonment in it. The second one allows for a mistake and does not threaten the relationship of either person.
Reframing and changing intention share the similarity of positively processing information in a way that is purposeful. It is life changing to reframe and develop positive intentions.
When making your new year, new you change, decide to reframe, and elevate intentions. This shift in thinking and acting on these new thoughts causes an uplift to achieve expedited results with greater confidence. It also allows for mistakes, which is how we all learn. We seldom learn from what we do right. Reframed, all mistakes are great teachers. Reinvention begins with setting a positive intention. It transforms things that caused you to make mistakes in the past and creates a fast track to a better future. Happy new year and new you!