What is cognitive reframing?
Cognitive reframing is a deceptively simple idea. It’s just looking at a given situation in a different way — or putting it in a new “frame” which could be more useful. (A frame in this sense is the complex set of your ideas, beliefs, value which are used to infer meaning on a situation.)
Why is this interesting?
Reframing can be extremely helpful in problem solving and decision making. If you have a situation that you think it might help to reframe:
- Acknowledge and try to recognize some of the framing that exists in your perception — certain ideas, beliefs etc
- Consider alternative angles — try to find different framing to use to look at the situation. Here’s a great list to use as triggers to help with reframing.
I’ll leave you with this marvelously memorable parable that reminds me of cognitive reframing:
A farmer in a poor village was considered very well-to-do, because he owned a horse which he used for plowing and for transportation. One day his horse ran away. All his neighbors exclaimed how terrible this was, but the farmer simply said “maybe.”
A few days later the horse returned and brought two wild horses with it. The neighbors all rejoiced at his good fortune, but the farmer just said “maybe.”
The next day the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses; the horse threw him and broke his leg. The neighbors all offered their sympathy for his misfortune, but the farmer again said “maybe.”
The next week conscription officers came to the village to take young men for the army. They rejected the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. When the neighbors told him how lucky he was, the farmer replied “maybe.” 🐴
Want to go deeper?
📖 An extreme example of reframing and a truly epic tale comes from Victor Frankl’s must read book Man’s Search For Meaning.
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