What Is Framing?
Framing theory is about communication and how we create meaning in our communications.
Framing is about how we define context, make associations, establish reference points and emotional touch points all designed and positioned to convey the sense and meaning that we want to convey.
An example of this could be how a political party or pressure group asks people if they would approve of extreme right wing groups being allowed to hold public events.
Framed in neutral terms the response may likely be against such approval.
However, if the same question was framed in the context of upholding free speech the response may likely shift towards a greater level of approval.
The Power of Framing And The Stoics Challenge
In The Stoic Challenge William Irvine observes:
“… the Stoics’ contribution to psychology is particularly impressive; indeed, the Stoic test strategy is based on their appreciation of a phenomenon that has been rediscovered by modern psychologists, who christened it the framing effect.”
How we mentally characterize a situation has a profound impact on how we respond to it emotionally.
Changing our dominant emotional or energetic state has a profound effect on the positive creations and results that we experience, so any change to the way we reframe a situation is going to have a significant impact on those creations and results.
The Power Of Framing In Our Self-Talk
The choices of words that we use have power because of the underlying emotional associations that they invoke and the actions that result from those associations.
This applies as much to our inner dialogue as it does to the words we use in everyday speech.
This is also applies to the unconscious nature of the vast majority of these emotional/energetic associations.
What we are talking about here is the causal link between inner states and external events. We are energetic beings living in an energetic universe and it’s not neutral, it is also a participative universe.
The inner (conscious and unconscious) associations that we make and the meanings that we ascribe to those associations are all energy based.
By changing the words we use in our self-talk to frame an event, a situation or an experience, we change the underlying energetic state.
This change in energetic state changes the results that we create.
So there is a direct causal link between how we think about a situation, the words we use to articulate those thoughts, the energetic state associated with those words, and the results we create.
How To Find Your Unconscious Negative Self Talk
The very best clue that you have some unhelpful and unresourceful self-talk going on inside your head but outside your conscious awareness is to look closely at your resistance to things.
Think of something that you want to have, do or be. Why don’t you have it? If you say anything other than honest “I know it’s on the way to me” you probably aren’t clear inside with what you want.
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
Examples Of The Power of Reframing
A personal example
About 15 years ago I got into some serious financial difficulties with my business which eventually led to me going bankrupt.
As you might expect this was a tough time but I made it far harder on myself than I needed to because the word “bankruptcy” had such negative connotations and associations to me – deep powerful associations of failure and shame.
Given the amount of files and documentation involved in filing for bankruptcy I had many physical and electronic files and folders with the heading “Bankruptcy“.
So every time I accessed one of these files I saw the dreaded, horrible, repulsive and loathsome word bankruptcy.
Given that I had need to access these files many times a day I was constantly exposed to these extreme negative reactions.
Eventually it occurred to me to reframe the naming of these folders and files to “Debt Freedom” – words which were loaded with positive and uplifting energy.
The effect on my psychological and emotional state was massively liberating!
Framing our experiences of Covid-19
The meaning, point and purpose of your experience of current times is entirely what you choose it to be.
You can allow this time to weaken you and diminish and disempower yourself, OR you can choose to create your own meaning and purpose and use this time to strengthen, refresh and empower yourself!”
How we choose to frame this experience and the words we associate with it can have a major bearing on we deal with it, and the effect it has on us.
When is a lockdown not a lockdown? Answer: When the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed the nation on Tuesday (Apr 21 2020), giving an update on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore and refers to what every other country is referring to as “lockdown” as the “circuit breaker“.
This is a great example of a positive framing of what otherwise is felt by all the rest of us as a negative experience.
Here in the UK, in common with most countries, we refer to it as the lockdown.
However, the term “lockdown” has associations of prison and prison life and lack of individual control; whereas in contrast, the term “circuit-breaker” implies positive group participation in a collective action to break the grip of the virus and this sounds, and feels, rather more empowering!
Read More: The Power Of Framing