My 4 year old and I decided to go for a hike. As we set out on our first hill, I could feel the burn. I felt anxious that my daughter may want to throw in the towel early because ‘it was too hard’. Then a thought crept into my mind: what if it is just me that feels the burn and associates a negative with it.
Parenting Experiment # 484: Reframing
“Hey Monkey, do you feel that burning in your legs?”
“Yah, Mom, right here,” she says, as she dramatically rubs her thighs.
“That is the feeling of your legs getting stronger.”
“REALLY!?” The wide-eyed wonder stirred something in my spirit as I watched a belief being born, right before my eyes.
Two Truths, One Choice
In my experience, the burning told me I was out of shape and should have been doing this more often.
In my daughter’s experience, the burning signified growth and development.
Both experiences are true, but one encourages and feeds the soul and one shames. Here is the beauty of it: I can choose which truth to focus on. In my thirties, I can swap out my belief for my daughter’s and allow it to spur me on towards my goals.
By drawing into question the thoughts that I have mistaken as realities, I have the opportunity to reframe exercise, eating, meditation, love…
The 3 Key Ingredients for Reframing
Awareness – You need to be conscious of your thoughts as you are doing something. Are they negative or positive? What messages are the most repetitive?
Curiosity – Is this thought the absolute truth, or are there other possible truths? Is this thought helping or hurting you? (Byron Katie does a fantastic job of reframing thoughts through questioning. You can check out her work at www.thework.com )
Choice – Once you have identified an unproductive thought, you can then replace it with a truth that is supportive. If you don’t love to exercise, then saying ‘I love to exercise’ will not have an impact. You have to choose a truth like, ‘I love to feel strong’ and use this to replace unproductive thoughts that are discouraging. Eventually, your thinking will become automatic, and you will find yourself looking forward to the chosen task.
I have used this fantastic trick to learn to love early mornings, running, healthy food and a variety of other, initially unpleasant, habits that I have begun to shape my life.
What are you putting off in your life that may need some reframing?