What is reframing?
The optimist sees the glass as half full. The pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The realist simply sees an opportunity to quench their thirst.
The partially filled glass, it would seem, means different things to different people and those meanings affect their states and behaviours.
In and of itself though, the partially filled glass doesn’t mean anything in particular – the meaning is supplied by the observers, each from their own viewpoint, from their own unique world models. The meaning of the glass depends on who is experiencing it and in which context that experience takes place.
All meaning is subjective and context dependent. Sometimes the meanings that people apply to their world, to events both within and beyond their influence, to the words and actions of others, to the results they get, to their ‘successes’ and ‘failures’ can affect them in ways which are less than congruent with their objectives/goals/desires/dreams.
The meanings which we apply to our model of the world directly influence our behaviours, the ways in which we respond to the world around us.
For example, if a person is resting in bed and hears his bedroom door open, that exact same noise will have two totally different meanings to him and evoke drastically different reactions depending on whether (1) he is alone in a locked house, or (2) he had previously invited his friend over and left the back door to his house unlocked.
In the above examples (1) and (2) are different context frames which, when applied to the sensory stimulus of hearing the bedroom door open, change the meaning of that experience for that person. The meaning that the person applies to the stimulus will cause them to modify their behaviour, to respond in different ways.
Trying to change behaviour directly can be difficult, but we can change our perceptions, our Internal Representations of anything in an instant, and this change will in turn lead to changes in our states or behaviours.
Reframing makes this process explicit so that we can do it with skill and volition.