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Reframing our daily frustrations

November 14, 2014
Melissa Marote , MOV Parent

"Reframing" is a technique used in counseling to assist a person in viewing a situation, person or relationship in a different way by changing its meaning. The idea behind reframing helps to shift a person's viewpoint. Once shifted, the meaning changes, and the thinking and behavior attached to the original point-of-view often changes as well. One way to conceptualize this is to think of looking through a camera lens. The picture seen through the lens can be altered to a view that is nearer or further away. By slightly modifying what is seen through the camera, the picture is both viewed and experienced in a different way.

An example of a reframe: Parent to a childless adult: "Oh my goodness! I am so incredibly tired. My 2-year-old is driving me crazy! I can hardly get any rest at night!" Childless adult: "You are so fortunate to have this problem! I have been trying to get pregnant for the past year without any luck! How I wish I had your problem! I'd do anything to have a child to love!"

As parents, we honestly try our very best to be the most patient, loving parents we possibly can, but sometimes it can be a challenge. The example above was no accident. This actually happened to me! When things like this happen, it reminds me to "thank my lucky stars" and "count my blessings." But it also helps me to remember the importance of reframing. Just because I am a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, does not exclude me from having problems. I just have to remember to heed the advice I give to my clients!

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So when my 2 1/2-year-old daughter wakes up at 5 a.m. and I want nothing more than just one more precious hour of sleep, and I'm exhausted and slightly ticked off for being woken up, this is a good time to take a deep breath, and reframe the situation. "Yes, I am annoyed that I have been roused from sleep. But I am so very fortunate to have a healthy, spirited, daughter to take care of."

And when I have just cleaned the living room, and my 2 1/2-year-old daughter dumps the entire box of toys all over the floor, I absolutely can choose to feel annoyed and resentful. Or I can choose to take a deep breath (breathing is such a great way to lower your blood pressure!), maybe even give myself a 2 minute "time-out," then return to the site with a reframe. "Yes, I just cleaned this room and am feeling upset that it is now a mess. But how else can she play with the toys if they are all shoved in a box? This is a fun way for her to rediscover the long lost toys stuck at the bottom. We can make a game of picking up the toys together in an hour. I am fortunate to have a daughter who is engaged with her surroundings and has an interest and ability to play with her toys. I am lucky that she has the strength to dump the toy box. I am lucky she has an attachment to some of her toys and values the time she can play with them. At least she isn't watching TV" Or you might use one of my easy reframes, "Okay! An opportunity for me to burn some calories!"

This is a wonderful practice in which to engage. Reframing can help curb that frustration, anxiety, depression, (insert unwanted emotion here), and assist you in developing alternative and healthier ways of viewing the situation, world or person, and hopefully improve your behavior.

Melissa Marote is a licensed professional clinical counselor and received her doctorate in counselor education from Ohio University.



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