It’s been ages since I thought of this incident. But as I woke up this morning, it just flashed in my mind so clearly. I was in 8th or 9th grade. It was a festival in India (Ganesh puja). We woke up in the morning and my father and I went out to get fresh fruits from the market. We had finished buying all the fruits and I offered to carry the bag of fruits. I had always seen my father offering to help people with their bags and baggages and I thought that was so gentlemanly of him. So, I had started doing that at an early age too. He smiled and let me carry the bag. He asked me to hold his hand as we were crossing the road to get to our car. I saw a two-wheeler fast approaching towards us. While my father continued crossing the road, I don’t know at what point did I let go of his hand and just stood frozen. The two-wheeler came and hit me. Due to the impact, I flew and fell on the road with my head hitting the road. After that, I wasn’t aware of what happened.
In some time, I felt someone was massaging my feet, some massaging my hands, some mumbling sounds of people, vague sounds. I felt my eyes open, but everything was pitch dark. I couldn’t see. In about a few moments, I heard my father’s voice clearly saying, “Nana, Narmada, can you hear me? Say something nana!” I could hear his panic-stricken voice. And slowly my vision started – it was hazy and blurred at first, but eventually everything became clear and I could see. I saw there were quite a few people surrounding me and I was sitting on some stone. I saw my father looking at me anxiously. I managed to get the words out of my mouth, “I am fine.” The people around suggested my father to take me to a hospital nearby. My father rushed me there, the doctor examined and sent me to the next room for an injection. I overheard the doctor telling my father to observe me for 24 hours and if everything went okay, then there’d be nothing to worry. So, off we went home.
As soon as we reached home, my mother was shocked to see me. She worriedly asked what happened. Daddy told her it was a small accident but nothing to worry. I narrated the whole story. As soon as she heard it, she immediately said, “You went to get fruits for the prayer and this is what happened to you. I don’t want to do the prayer now.” My father instantly said, in a very kind and reassuring way, “It is those fruits that saved her today ma. She was carrying that bag on her right side where the bike hit. That’s what prevented her from getting further hurt.” My mother looked into the bag of fruits, a lot of them were squished. She had tears in her eyes. She said, “Yes! These fruits saved her. God is there! We should give thanks to him!” And so the puja (prayer) went on. My parents asked me to rest. Daddy came and lay down next to me. When I woke up, he said, “You were holding on to my hand very tightly nana” and smiled his usual gentle smile. I smiled too. I said I was feeling fine now. And that was that!
The technique that my father used, when my mother said she didn’t want to do the prayer, is called reframing in NLP. It means changing the frame or the way in which we look at something by changing its meaning or looking at it in a different context. It’s done very gently and effortlessly and has a massive impact. My father did not challenge my mother or say she was wrong in thinking that way, nor lecture her on why we should pray. He instantly reframed saying, it is that bag of fruits that we got for the prayer that actually saved me. It helps break the unconscious resistance of the other person and offers them a new, more powerful perspective. Reframing gives you the power to choose your response to any situation in life rather than regretting or feeling bad about it. As the old adage goes, ‘you can’t choose what happens to you but you can choose how you respond to it.’
The best part is you don’t have to be NLP trained to be able to use this. Most of us use it unconsciously in life, like how my father did. If you consciously choose to do it, imagine how powerful it would be.
Let’s explore two important types of reframing. Content and context.
Content reframe is when you take the meaning of something and ask – what else could this mean? For example, your friend did not answer your call so you are upset thinking he has no time for you. If you ask yourself, what else could this mean (to arrive at a more positive outlook) – you might think, maybe he’s busy or held up.
Context reframing is when you look at the same thing but change the context without changing its meaning. For example, if you think a child is argumentative, you might be frustrated. If you change the context, you can see that they can be a very good lawyer because they can think of alternate points very quickly.
So, the two important questions to keep in mind are:
- What else could this mean (in a more positive way)?
- In which context could this be useful?
If someone says ‘No’ to you, and if you think – ‘they probably have the best intent for me, they are enabling me to help myself’ – this is content reframing. If you think, ‘they are really focused on the task at hand, they know how to prioritize and say no effectively’ – this is context reframing.
In the above example of my father, what reframing do you think he used – content or context? Do share your views below. And happy reframing. 🙂