Changing the Frame Can Change Your Life

What would happen to your business, project or performance, if you could create a perspective that would lead to powerful and amazing results?

Frame graphic

Every picture tells a story, don’t it…”
~ Rod Stewart

I know an artist. Not just any artist. An amazing artist. Oh, and she happens to be my wife, Ramona. She has an eye for what works and what doesn’t.

I watch her in her studio as she takes a blank canvas and, over time, transforms it into something magical. (VictorianNoel.com) After what seems to be a zillion hours of work, she shows me what I believe is the final piece. I tell her it’s time to put it out to the world so others can share in its magic.

Instead, I hear these words, “It’s not finished yet. I need to put it in a frame.” So, I offer to run to the art store to quickly grab a frame for her latest piece. “No,” she says,

“Picking the right frame makes all of the difference in the world.”


And she is right (as she usually is!). The frame she chooses can either make the picture look ‘okay’ or pop and come alive.

The frame matters.

It matters not only in art, it matters in every area of our life. How I choose to frame what I see or even believe makes all of the difference in the world.

A recent Harvard University 8-year study confirmed how critical it is how we frame things. In fact, they concluded that how we see a particular set of circumstances can be the difference between life and death.

The study included 30,000 people who reported having a lot of stress in their lives. This group had a 43% increased chance of dying prematurely.

But

It was also discovered that this result applied only to those in the study who believed that the stress they were experiencing was bad for them. Those who didn’t really believe and buy into “stress is really going to hurt me” had the lowest risk of dying!

The study concluded that it isn’t stress, per se, that affects health, but how we ‘frame’ the stress in our lives (that is, what we tell ourselves about the situation). According to the study, “Your mindset about stress may be the most important predictor of how it affects you.”

How I choose to frame what I see or even believe makes all of the difference in the world in our health as well as in our business and creative pursuits.

Here are some examples from recent coaching clients of mine and how they were able to change the perspective on their situation:

SITUATION: A Psychotherapist tells me about how his business is slow during the summer months.

Frame #1 – “I hate this time of year. My income always falls and I get so discouraged.”

Frame #2 – “Summer is coming and I know my business will slow down temporarily. This would be a great time to create new marketing materials, set up my goals for the fall and spend some quality time with my family. I am so grateful to have this time available to me.”

SITUATION: A Writer shares how she feels stuck and unable to write the past couple of weeks.

Frame #1 – “Writing can be so hard. I am starting to wonder if I’m really cut out for this. Maybe my family was right and I should get a ‘real’ job.”

Frame #2 – “Today I am just going to write. I don’t care if it looks good, or perfect or if anyone else on the planet will like it. I am a writer and I am going to write today.”

SITUATION: A Woodwind player is getting reading for her solo recital.

Frame #1 – “What if I get anxious like I have in the past and ruin my recital. I can even see me freezing up on the stage. I am so afraid I am going to blow it.”

Frame #2 – “A little anxiety and stress will help me perform my best. I am going to practice my breathing and relaxation exercises that I’ve learned in my coaching, and focus my mind on giving the performance of my life. I can do this!”

If you want to change the picture, change the frame.

Take a moment the next time you are stressed, discouraged or not sure how things might turn out and make a conscious choice to ‘re-frame’ the situation.

The frame that you choose will make “all the difference in the world”.

Question: In what area do you need to use a different ‘frame’ in your life? Is it in a relationship, a project you are working on or a general belief about yourself? I would love to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Loved this post Nick. I love the whole concept of reframing which I was introduced to when I was a returning student. I believe some people have a “shifting,” problem and that’s what prevents them from being able to frame in a healthier way. Thanks for the post. I have to share.

    • nlazaris

      Anne, you always have such kind words! Yes, making the ‘shift’ is the key. The first, and often most challenging, step is creating an ongoing awareness of the value and need to shift. Once we are aware, we can consciously choose to talk differently to ourselves in a particular situation – Awareness, Shift … Awareness, Shift … Awareness, Shift (creating, along the way, new neural pathways!) Thanks again for sharing!

      • I’m afraid I have a couple of additional steps. Awareness, disengage button pressed with PTSD, shift, Awareness, try again to disengage button, shift…

        • nlazaris

          I understand, as I worked with PTSD and abuse issues in my practice for over 20 years and saw the work required to make the shift!

          • Shame is a button and once that button is pressed it takes me a while to disengage it. It is pressed right now.

  • I’d never heard of framing as a concept before. This IS life-changing!

    • nlazaris

      Erika, I am so pleased to hear your comment! The key to Cognitive Reframing is to make a conscious shift in your perspective. At first, it does not even matter if you believe it – commit to making the shift in how you see the situation and what you tell yourself about it.

      • It does make a huge difference to change your perspective. Thanks for sharing!