Our thoughts become things, and sometimes they are not the things we actually want. How do we use the art of reframing to keep us on the right track?

October 3, 2023
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Hey everyone, welcome to the Self Awareness Journey podcast. I'm Melissa Albers. And I'm JJ Parker. This podcast is for seekers of happiness, joy, and a centered approach to success in life. Seekers of their true, authentic selves. Get ready for some real talk on everything from anxiety, emotions, and habits.

To love, compassion, and forgiveness. We know you'll be challenged and enlightened by this conversation, and we're so glad you're here. Let's dive in!

It has been a while since I started a podcast with a dictionary definition, and I know you love it.

Oh no, welcome to the first 10 pods of the self awareness journey. Get the dictionary.

What does this word mean? Okay,

is this?

so the word I want to talk about is reframing.

Oh, I thought you were going to say something like acidophilus.

Some really hard word? No. Keep it to easy words. Reframing. This does not mean like, um, moving a wall in your house. I guess that could

Okay. So no sheetrock.

No, no, this is not a construction metaphor, but I found myself in the past, um, couple like weeks and even months spending a lot of time reframing the way people are thinking about a situation. So that's why I wanted to, that's why I wanted to find the word reframing from a, uh, psychology perspective first. So then we can talk about how, how reframing. applies to

Oh, I don't know if I've ever done that as a coach.

Reframe something. It's like your whole job. Um, alright, so reframing. A process of reconceptualizing a problem by seeing it different from a different perspective.

Altering the conceptual or emotional context of a problem often serves to alter perceptions of the problem's difficulty and to open up possibilities for solving it.

That is a huge sentence. A mouthful. Um, the, the phrase that I love that you said was altering the emotional context.

hmm. Mm hmm.

I love that. That's what I pulled out of that,

In full disclosure, I did get this from the American


Association's Dictionary of Psychology. This is not what, this is not the Webster version of, uh, that word.

the urban dictionaries version. Okay. Just, you know, if we had more time, it would be fun to go there just to see, but we won't do that

So the idea that you're like, you're reconceptualizing something, and I like it from a different perspective because so often we, you know, we are obviously looking at the world through our lens and our view and our




And it is sometimes really helpful to see how someone else looks at the world. Because often, again, there's, they, they're looking at a different, different frame. And learning how they're looking at the world is sometimes really, really helpful.

Mm hmm. So, can I plus one your whole beginning part of how we frame things and how come it's so important to have a reframer? Um, because usually when we are framing things in our own world through our own lens, we are using past experience and our emotions behind the past experience to try to reframe what we want going forward.


So we use the exact same framework all the time thinking we're doing something beneficial and not doing that because oh now there's someone different in the picture or now it's a different job or it's a different circumstance. But if you're framing using the exact same lens. You are gonna get the same outcome most of the time.

Mm hmm.

So I love this idea of reframing. How come you wanted to talk about it today?

Well, mostly because I found myself doing it a lot, um, to help folks get unstuck.


um, and all over the place, not just at work, like at home,

Yeah. Gimme an example.

so, uh, Abby is on the middle school tennis team and she had her first. Yep. She had, she had her first match a couple days ago and um, yeah, it's first match jitters.

Right. And she's

Sure. Yeah,

she's just going on and on. What if I can't serve? What if this, what if that, and, you know, just getting all spun up about her tennis match and. So I just stopped her and said, okay, Abby, the, all that could and can be true. Your serve might be terrible. In fact, it's almost for sure going to be terrible.

I didn't want to tell her that though.

That good? Good on you for not adding that. Yeah. Well done. Good parenting moment.

but the things that she was worried about, like were likely going to happen. So they're not untrue. But she was putting so much, um, anxiety around that that I was like, Abby, let's think about the, what the first tennis, tennis match maybe should be like, what do you, what would you want to get out of it?

She's like, well, it's the first one and I haven't played in a while and like, right. Okay. So maybe your expectation of the first match should be. I'm just getting back out there, it's, um, I'm, I'm happy that I'm, I made the team, right, that I'm back on the court, it's going to be a beautiful fall day, like, um, it's a, it's okay if I miss some of these shots, I'll learn from the mishits, um, you know, it'll, it'll, and give yourself a little bit of grace on the expectation of how, what your performance is going to be the first day and the first match.

So yeah, just a little bit of different perspective, um, to help her not, uh, not have so much an anxiety and in a sport like tennis, the number one performance killer is anxiety.

Well, actually, you know what? I think you could say that for all sorts of things.

Mm hmm.

Not just a not just a physical tennis or not physical sport all sorts of things life. Yeah. Yeah,

But in some of those sports, it really, it really highlights. And what the, the one thing I like about sport is that it really highlights, um, the, your physical performance and your mental state. Those things are so tied directly together. Um, and that's

And your emotional state

and your emotional state.

Yep. That's what I think is interesting about sport. It's much more about like your emotional control than your.

Mm hmm. So there it is the self awareness journey right there packaged in a middle school girls Tennis tennis match. Yeah, isn't that fascinating? So, um So you you mentioned that and actually you said this a few days ago You were talking about how people you feel like you've been doing a lot of reframing lately.

So do you think it's because More people are asking you your opinion about things or do you think it's more? You're noticing this pattern of people thinking a certain way right now based on your own growth. Like, what do you think that's about?

Let's see, I don't think people are asking me, I think I might be telling now,

I don't know if I believe that.

uh, no, I, I've been noticing, um, yeah, a little bit, just a little bit more negative spin on things a little bit more like what if this goes wrong? I'm not sure what's going to happen. More uncertainty.


And a lot of times that uncertainty will, will just lead to a negative thought

Mm hmm.

Um, and then the, the, the thing that's always right next to this one is the expectations thing.



get a little bit, um, sideways or a little off target. Um, then they don't, then they feel like they're not meeting them. Then they can, then they frame a whole activity in a negative light. When in fact, maybe only 5 percent of it is negative and 95 percent of it is extraordinarily positive.

Yeah. So, which brings me back to what I was saying at the beginning of our pod, I totally agree. Um, the, the very first thing that I was talking about is people have expectations for themselves or outcomes based on past experience. Um, it's seldom based on a clear Yeah. to what is and what's possible. It's very seldom based on that. Like, even if we're trying to be optimistic, sometimes what we'll even do is throw so much expectation in there that we want something even more outlandish than probably what's possible because there's this framing that's happening. This, tell yourself this story, just tell yourself this story. It doesn't matter if it's right or not.

You know, it's kind of like my problem with the whole. Uh, the self development industry of fake it till you make it kind of thing,


right? It's that framing.

Mm hmm.

the framing of it.

So, um, you're talking about past. Like past experiences. What happens if we don't have really any experience? With

Hmm. Oh, that's interesting.

It's like a new experience. We're gonna go do something new. It's a little bit of an adventure.

But don't you think even in that situation, people will still pull from their past experiences of being involved in something as of a new adventure without any experience? Don't you think people still do that? Like, I, I just think, cause here's what I think happens. I think our brains are so busy trying to run stuff


not based on logic or not, well, no, based on strictly logic, not based on human emotion or feelings or, or what's possible.

The brain's constantly, all the brain does is it's a comparison tool. That's all it is. So if you say, I'm in this new thing, like, what if, what if, what if the brain goes, okay, what, what is the last time we did that? What that we were in? What if, and what happened? What could go wrong? Like, what's going to go wrong here?

Okay. Yeah, this could happen, but let's just try to prepare ourselves so we don't hurt our, our own feelings. Like, that's what I think happens. And it takes somebody with some clarity and some awareness to step in and say, Whoa, hang on a minute. Can we just come back to. Let's just reframe how you're processing all of this. You know?

Yep. Yeah. I was trying to think of like an example in my life where... I would do something new but have no prior experience at it.

Yeah. Could you think of any?

I've never been on a cruise. So, my expectation of a cruise is that it's, um, it's, it's a Marriott on a boat. Is it that? I don't

Human soup. That's what I always think of that as. I'm sorry. There's a lot of people who love cruises. No disrespect

have to go on a cruise at some point.

Really? Do you though?

probably not.

Well, I think like to make this a little more real instead of such a theoretical discussion right now. I think that in my coaching conversations, there are many times where, um, okay, like this week I was working with a newer leader that their office had a lot of drama.


And this newer leader was inexperienced in how to navigate not only for themselves, but for the office, like really inexperienced about that.

However, they had a lot of experience with teams of people or groups of people being dramatic. And not having each other's back. So there was an automatic fear that this outcome was going to be the same way. It's like, oh, here we are in a team environment with a bunch of people and they all have their own agendas and nobody's taking care of each other and no matter what I do, I'm going to look like the bad guy if I try to be different because that's what happened

hmm. Mm.

So it's this expectation like you're talking about that creates this narrative. About what they think is going to happen and ultimately usually the narrative you create in your mind is exactly what happens You know what? I mean if you go into that if you emotionally if you emotionally attach to and fixate on that Narrative almost most assuredly it will happen.

It's the law of attraction,

Yep. So, if we're in our own heads way too much, most of the time, and, and, and especially if we're, if we're t trending towards the negative, um, Cause I, a couple of what I'm hearing, like there's, there's a reef, like the reframing you can do yourself, right? If you can be self aware enough to say, Oh, this, this, I'm thinking about this not in the right way.

So let me try to reframe it. I think that's a good exercise for you to do individually. Sometimes that's really hard. Um,

I agree. Mm

and so having someone else or sharing someone else's experience to help you think about a situation differently. Is super helpful, like you as a coach.

Yeah, I well I I really like that you just it's so funny that you just said that because I actually with my pen and You know, I never take notes But as you were talking I wrote two things and the two questions that I wrote were exactly what you just said You said I said can we reframe ourselves?


I can't. Can we do that? I think we should talk about that. And if so, like, what are tactics that we could try? How do we know we need to be reframing? Like, how would we know? First of all,

How would we know ? 'cause we start feeling, because we start feeling bad and we, we feel ourselves getting into this. The, you like the shame spiral or the negative spiral?

Yep. So we have some sort of trigger that doesn't make us feel good.

Overthinking. If we're o for me, if I'm overthinking a thing or I'm. spinning on a thing, that's a, that's a sure sign.

Yeah, that's a really good one. So if you know, you're a thinker and overthinker and then you see that you're going there. Yeah, that's like a key because is it hard to reframe ourselves? Or is it just hard to recognize when we need to reframe ourselves?

I think it's the second one. I think it's hard to recognize when we need a reframe. I don't think it's, if you sat down, if you sat down and you wrote on a piece of paper, like, I am upset because it's going to be cloudy tomorrow on, like, my wedding day, right? And then, you're like, well, can you control that?

Not really. Like, do you want to let it ruin your day? No. You know, reframe it like, uh, the, the, I know that photos are better when it's cloudy out than when it's really sunny. We will have

Yeah. So reframe it to the

have really amazing photos. Yeah. Reframe it to the positive. If you sit down and do that exercise yourself, you can totally do it.

The hard part is recognizing when you need to reframe stuff.

Yeah. Okay. So I have a real life example. It just happened two days ago. I was on the way to a board meeting and, um, you know, I have this new vehicle. Well, you know, I have a new vehicle. I have a new vehicle.

Now everyone knows you have a new vehicle.

Now everyone knows I have a new vehicle, which I'm not bragging. I don't like having new vehicles.

There's so much stress involved. Okay. Anyway. Um, one of the things I was concerning myself with this new vehicle is getting a windshield ding. I don't know why I just had that in my mind. It is weird. And, um, so I'm on my way to a board meeting and what do you suppose happened? I got a huge windshield ding.

Yeah. And it turned into like a bullseye right away, right above my vision in the middle of my forehead is where it would be.

sounds annoying,

Super annoying. Okay. So, um, so this happens. So here's the thought process that went through my head because I'm very aware, I'm trying to be very aware, right? And my first thought process was I brought that to myself because I was fixated on something was going to happen and it was likely going to be the windshield.

I really didn't know I was fixating on it, but I, I remember thinking that more than once.

way to attract a rock to your face,

I am such a strong manifester. Look out. But here's how I reframed it. This is how I reframed it. I just immediately. Got in the parking lot. Okay, fine. I only had one minute to get into the board meeting after the meeting.

I came out and I called to get, to get it all sorted out. And they said, well, it's going to be like two weeks because you know, your windshield has all of these sensors, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we can't get it done right away. And so I had two choices. I could have gotten real mad about it and I could have fixated on the energy of how it felt that I had manifested this ding in my windshield, but I purposefully reframed it.

So this is what I started to do. And this sounds goofy. I sound like a crazy person, but I really did do this. I looked at that and I thought, what a great location. It's right where I will see it. It's not right in my view, so it's not like dangerous, but it is in such a good spot because it can remind me of how strong of a manifester that I

hmm. Mm

And, um, and I love how it will be fixed. It's going to be fixed and now I won't have to worry about it anymore because I've already done that. So I did. I went through the whole process of this is what happened, 99. 9 percent sure I brought that to myself. Now some people are like, okay, Melissa, there is such a thing as well, but anyway, it doesn't matter.

Um, but then I equally knew I had the power and the. I had the interest to feel good, no matter what I chose to feel good, no matter what. So I was able to reframe it myself and I don't feel bad now, even though it's still there and I'll have it for a couple of weeks. It's okay. It's okay. It could have been so much worse, you know?

So that's an example of.

is a really good



Okay. All right. Here's my second question. So I said, can we reframe ourselves? And you know, we talked about little ways to do that. You said, like, if you notice you've been triggered or I said triggered, you said, if you notice you're overly thinking about something like, so everybody knows their own processes or they wouldn't be listening to this podcast.

So here's the other question. How do you know when to engage others in helping you reframe?

hmm. Probably. Yeah. I mean, it might be this similar, right? Like if, when you start noticing,

Mm hmm.

but often. You know, it's hard to ask for help.


You know, it's hard to say like, Oh, um, I'm really stuck on something. Usually it comes off as just complaining to other people.

Mm hmm.

If I need something reframed, it doesn't look like, Hey Melissa, I've been really worried about this thing upcoming, and I'm really negative about it, and I was wondering if you could help me see it in a different way? Wouldn't that be awesome? Usually comes

would definitely give you a nice layup.


It'd be a nice layup for

right? Yeah. Usually comes off with like, you know, Everything at work is horrible, and the sky is falling, and everyone's a jerk, and none of this is my fault, and... Complain, complain, complain. Um, so...

suggesting that you might not know you need some help reframing?

you for sure don't


Well, first, it's fun to complain about stuff, so why would I want to reframe my favorite activity?

that's a lie,


not you. I know what you're saying.

know what I'm saying, it's, it, it is, there's, there's part of, the, the thing that reframing would hopefully do is make it so you don't really have anything to complain about. You don't, you can't complain, after you've reframed your windshield thing, you can't complain about your windshield anymore.

Or you don't feel

there is nothing to complain

Nothing to complain about,

nothing to.

mitigated it. Um,

Yeah. Well, if you've cleared your deck, if you've cleared your deck of that negative energy, those thoughts, those emotions that are not helpful, there's, there is no reason to focus on that short end of the stick anymore. Mm

So the question is, would you know, would you know or would you be willing to like go ask somebody for their opinion of stuff, or do you just want to complain? Either's fine, I'm not judging the complaining one,

I actually, though, wonder if there's something in addition to that. I don't think it's just those two options.

What's the third

don't think it's just those two op Well, okay, so like, first of all, I think the more self aware you become, we become, the less willing we are to engage other people in our deep internal processes because they don't know like you know.

Right? So I think there is that. So the less, for me, I am not willing to engage in other people in places that I feel I'm still just kind of working on


Um, however, uh, if I do this for a bit of time and I still have a stomach ache over it, it's the best way for me to describe it.


Then I know, okay.

I'm stuck. I, I don't feel I, um, or I asked myself, would it just be better for me to go directly to the source of my discontent and have a more honest conversation to release this stuff? Like, so I think I kind of like reached that point where I just say, I'm not able to reframe this internally. Maybe it's not meant to be reframed right now. Um, or if it is, I need some help reframing it because I just can't do that. So unfortunately I wait until I'm in an extreme amount of pain before I'll do that as you can attest because I'll be spun up about something for a really long time before I'll admit it. But I think that's the whole challenge is like, what if I came to you and I said, okay, this is what I'm really stressed out about, which I do.

I'll come to you and say, This is what I'm really stressed out about. And you'll be like, yeah, we've been talking about that for two months,

mm hmm. Ha ha

right? This is real.

yeah, you make me sound so kind.

No, but no, but it is what it is. It's just true. Truth is truth is my point. Truth is truth. And so sometimes if we simply cannot reframe ourselves to truth, sometimes we need really trusted advisors, not everybody. So this is what I'm saying. I think it's really important that if we decide that, you know what, I need somebody to help me reframe it.

It has to be a trusted advisor.

yep. I agree, you can't just go ask random people. Um, the time when asking random people... Things, uh, works for me is, uh, especially like in, uh, in a context where like, again, I don't really know what I'm doing. Um, I haven't had the experience. So I'm really, I become really open to asking other people what their experience around a problem is because they're likely looking at it different than I am.

And I can actually learn like I. You know, I can use that as a learning opportunity. How would, how would you look at this situation? Like, here's what I got going on, how would you look at this? And,

Yep. And you do that. You've done that a lot of times in new, like new big things that you're trying to take on. You go to a completely different group of people and start asking

mm hmm. Yeah, go ask someone outside your, outside your core what they think of something, and you're probably going to get a really, uh, hmm,


well, especially someone who has more expertise than you. It's just like when you've talked about like sports, like wanting to be the worst on the court because you're using someone else's expertise to learn. And I think that if we can be at that stage without the emotional investment made yet. That's the key is if you haven't convinced yourself that, you know, and have all the emotions behind, if you fail, you haven't done any of that, you're still really open.

So being able to have someone reframe situations for you without that emotional energy, I think is so awesome, right? Because then you're so open and you can take that into your whole bucket of experience to make decisions about how you think and feel about it.

Yep. Uh, let's switch to my other favorite pastime other than complaining, telling other people what to do.

going to tell everybody to hang up from this pod and go start telling everybody how to reframe their life.

well, I, I, again, I joke with that, but it is fun to tell people what to do, right? So I complain, yes, it is. You don't like someone's complaining about something. Oh, you know what you should do? You know. Yeah. Go, go do that. Go tell them off.

can't be that way. I can't be that way in my profile.

Okay. Well, good. So instead of telling people what to do another thing, I'm just joking. I'm just trying to like get you all

I know you are. I know you're yanking my chain. Yes. Yes.

using this reframing technique for other people because we want to help other people. I think I, I, I genuinely believe that most people want to help other people. Um, Um, a lot of, a lot of times we go into this, like someone's complaining or trying to solve through something.

And so you, you tell them maybe what, what you would do or a course of action or, or you should go do X, Y, and Z. You should. Yep. Using reframing to help them solve their problem, their own problem is actually really helpful. So instead of saying you should, you could say. Um, you might look at it this way, right?

You might pull, you might use reframing to like, not be focused on the particular details of the, the problem, back it up, put a nice big general frame around it and, and, you know, you could say things like, well, in my experience I looked at it this way. Mm-hmm.

I was just going to say that. It's, and that's another great way is to use your own and just say, well, if it were me, it's not, it's not me, but if it were, I guess here are some of the things I would be wondering.

I've even used it. Um, uh, again, I, I guess I use this a lot in parenting, so, uh, When, uh, our middle, Elliot, has been working on some, like, uh, t shirt design stuff, which is awesome. Um, but I will tell him things like, in my experience, I've done it this way. I've seen other people go that way. You could think about, generally, this other way.

Right, so I use it as, like, Uh, a way to say, hey, here are three different ways to look at that problem. Choose whichever one is that you feel would suit you. Um, but this is just what I've observed.

That's so good. Yeah, because there's no pass or fail. You're not making a judgment in your observation.


just allowing.

with kids, uh, there is a little bit of like my way or the highway, especially with like a child parent relationship. Even if it's not super explicit, if they don't do the way that you suggest, well, they're either going to do exactly the opposite. Cause.


if they don't do what you said, they're going to feel bad about it.

Um, so giving them a couple options and whichever one you choose is great. Um,

Do you know what? It isn't just kids and parents. If people feel like you're a trusted advisor, if you, if you, even if you think about who you go to for your trusted advisor, it's like, there is a level of, you feel a level of responsibility to take the advice given. I mean, I think that's just human nature to be in partnership with people.

And so I think you're, that's why it's so important to think about it the way you're mentioning is to have more of a openness and an option style rather than a, you should style and make the person feel bad or good in addition to how they're already feeling.

Yeah. So I think that's, if you're going to come help a lot, if you're going to come along someone alongside someone and help them reframe the way they're looking at things, um, maybe sharing not just your experience, but. What you've observed other people doing is really helpful.

I love it.

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Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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