Una's Blog


Happiness 2. What does this mean about you?

by Una Hearne.

The practices which improve your quality of life tend to be so simple we dismiss them. That’s a pity since they can make a huge difference to our quality of life. Today, I’m going to suggest reframing as a practice.

Your experience of life happens in your head. Your perception and interpretation of life is your reality. Now, some events and behaviour will trigger instant negative emotions in all of us – betrayal, bereavement, disappointment etc. These initial reactions and emotions are quite natural. They are not the majority of your life experience however. It’s our habitual, programmed mindset which creates the majority of our thoughts and feelings, and we can have a lot of influence on this. When something happens our habitual thinking/attitude will determine what that event means to us. This is where we have real power, we can change what we decide something means to us – by reframing.

The idea is to question your assumptions, especially when they are negative. Is this true? Really? Always? Then list as many alternative possible interpretations as you can. The more you can come up with, the more you can free your thinking and choose a more positive and realistic interpretation.

This is an example I have used in coaching many times. Suppose you did a job interview and didn’t get the job. Many people immediately assume it was their fault, something they did wrong. They say things like this: ‘I forgot to mention I can handglide!’ ‘I was too nervous’ ‘I should have been more persuasive’.

While any of these could be true, they are no more likely than any of these:

  • There were 10 candidates just as good as you and they preferred someone else.
  • The job was already going to someone internal.
  • The interviewer was prejudiced against men/women, older/younger people, your ethnicity or has some other prejudice you have no control over.
  • The job was not right for you, you dodged a bullet.
  • The interviewer was having a bad day…

And so on, a million reasons why you didn’t get the job and none of them anything to do with you. It is not realistic to decide it’s something you did or didn’t do. Unless you absolutely know for sure it is – if you slapped the interviewer for instance, it might be! Focusing on the jobs you don’t get and deciding it was your fault, drains your energy, saps your confidence and prepares you to do badly in the next interview. Not a great strategy. A better idea is to let it go and move on. Focus on what you want, assume you will get it eventually and carry on.

You can re-frame any experience present or past and decide what it means to you now. How about these for example?:

  • Oh I completely screwed that up, I’m Useless. Reframe: Well that could have gone better but now I know what to do next time, valuable learning.
  • That person doesn’t like me, I must be horrible. Reframe: Look at all the people who love me, I must be ok. It’s ok if some people don’t like me.
  • I could never do that, I’d love to but no way. Reframe: I’d love to do that, I’ll give it a go and if it doesn’t work sure I’ll have had fun and learned a lot.

Your choice. Your frame of mind. Your quality of life.



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