By Amy Dee
Just like you, the coronavirus has created changes and challenges for my family. All my spring and summer speaking engagements were either rescheduled, or became virtual events. In addition, Mom’s senior living apartment complex remains closed to visitors. Meanwhile, we’ve not gone to a movie or eaten out for months because, like you, we are stuck at home.
The good news is that reframing is an excellent tool for building the foundation for a happier life. Reframing works because it requires you to look for positives in a situation.
Negative to Positive. A Reframing Metaphor: The camera and director
There are always many ways to view a situation. For an example, let’s say your Uncle Bob is videotaping your family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Uncle Bob can focus his camera lens on the massive pile of dirty cooking pans by the sink or focus on the family laughing together while enjoying their food.
When you shift your perspective you change your perception.
Robinson Crusoe Reframing to go from negative to positive
There are many reframing techniques. This method is named after the principal character, Robinson Crusoe, in Daniel Defoe’s book Robinson Crusoe published in 1719.
After a shipwreck, Robinson Crusoe ends up alone on a remote tropical island. In order to survive he has to make the best of an unpleasant situation.
This method requires that you to look at the other side of the coin. As a result, you can gently change a negative situation to something more positive.
What follows is an example from Steve Klein’s book, The Science of Happiness. You start by creating a simple template with two columns, the minus column, and the plus column.
If Crusoe used this technique it might look something like this:
I am stuck with no chance of rescue, but I am alive while others died.
There is nothing to eat, but in this tropical jungle, I can forage for food.
I have no clothes to wear but, in this tropical climate, I won’t need many clothes.
Most importantly, notice that the minus column starts with ‘but’. This is intentional. The word ‘but’ decreases the power of the minus portion of the sentence.
The but helps you move from your glass being half empty to being half full.
Studies show this reframing technique successfully helps people move from negative to positive
The American National Institute of Mental Health used a CBT method similar to the Robinson Crusoe method on several hundred people diagnosed with moderate-to-severe depression.
Their study revealed that this technique cured 60% of the participants’ depression.
To sum up, you can’t choose everything that happens in your life, but you can choose how you respond.
So, next time a challenging situation appears consider using Robinson Crusoe reframing to minimize the negative and find the positive.
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