I am not an artist. Although I was looking forward to the get together, I was a bit intimidated by the painting part. Once I quieted the saboteur voice in my head that was reminding me of this, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
As we were painting, the artist described how we could paint the edges of the canvas if we wanted to leave our piece unframed. If we were going to frame it, then the edges would be covered and therefore did not need painting. In my head I was laughing thinking that there was a very low probability that my painting would be hung anywhere! However, the comments about framing caused me to think about how we use framing in our daily lives.
In the art world a frame can completely alter which parts of a picture will become most highlighted or noticed. For instance in the picture we painted, there were several different colours of leaves. If I had chosen to frame my picture with a yellow matte for instance, then the very few yellow leaves in the picture would have really stood out. If I had chosen an orange matte the orange leaves would have been most obvious.
In our lives we often ‘frame’ situations. I used to hear people talking about things like ‘re-frame the situation’ and I could never quite get an image of what they meant. It is very clear to me now.
Imagine a situation where a team leader says to her team of five people, “Our profit is down. We need to think of some ways to streamline our expenses and increase profit. Nothing is off the table.”
Each of the five team members would ‘frame’ the meeting that followed in very different ways. Usually when we frame something, we rely on our past experiences to help us choose our frame. For instance if Team Member A had been released from a team previously, she might immediately frame the upcoming conversation with the idea that someone was going to be released from the team and it would likely be her. Once this frame was secured around her picture of the situation, the parts of the picture that would be highlighted for Member A would be any words, or hints, that spoke about reducing the size of the team. She would likely not even hear many of the other suggestions. Imagine the effect this would have on her energy during the meeting.
Compare this to the frame that Team Member B might use. He has worked for a variety of different companies and understands that there are many other providers that this team could use to reduce costs. This is the frame that he places around the meeting. He does not really notice suggestions about cutting a position, but any comment about researching possible new providers stand out in bold colours for him. He loves that he will have a chance to show that he has many connections. He leaves the meeting feeling excited and invigorated.
Each of the other team members would have their own unique frame too. After the meeting if each was asked how it went, each would have a different response even though they had each taken part in the exact same experience. It is the frame that they chose to use that would make the difference.
In our lives, each of us chooses frames in order to help us ‘see’ situations. Some of the frames we use keep us stuck in ruts and keep us from not noticing all of the other great possibilities that await us if we could only see them. Some of the more popular frames are victim frames, poor me frames, not me frames, you always frames, no one listens frames, I can’t frames, I can frames, I don’t have time frame and the that sounds hard frame.
This week your challenge is to find a situation in which you recognize that you are having a familiar reaction. Stop yourself and choose to reframe. Keep in mind that the frame you choose will highlight the parts of the situation that will stand out most vividly to you. You will be astonished at the change the new frame makes in not only your perspective but in how you feel about that part of your life.