The Big Idea
As Stephen Covey said: “the problem is not the problem; the problem is how we see the problem.” In other words, perspective alters our perception and our perception/s alters our reality – in fact our perception becomes our reality, whether it is actually real or not…
Now before you get concerned that we are getting too existential here – we suspect that most of you already know this but you may not be as aware of it as you could be.
Most of us know the feeling and consequences of getting stuck in the rut of our own points of view (perspectives). And even when we know we are stuck, it’s often not enough to get out of the rut that we are in. We all know people who can look at the same situation and see 2 very different things right? Think here of the classic “glass half-empty or half-full’. Stephen Covey in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People‘ puts these differences down to differences of perspective ‘paradigms’, you can think of these as different lenses in glasses (spectacles) including the different frames in which they are held. Paradigms tend to combine to make up our more generalised approaches to life that we call ‘mindsets’. Mindsets are the more general ways of processing and ‘seeing’ (interpreting) the world, like “glass half-empty or half-full”.
This week’s tip is how we can, by ourselves, change our perspectives and so paradigms by creatively reframing.
Helen Guinness is an international transformational coach and an avid art lover. In fact when you see her living room most of her wall space is taken up by framed art-work. This love of creating painting and displaying artwork, including her own, has led to a rather nifty tip that she has used with her coaching clients to help them see and realise radical shifts in the thinking. Helen literally invites clients to envisage the issue surrounded by different styles, shapes and colours of frame. Helen says that this changes the relationships and interpretation of the same issue or picture for her clients. What’s more, she says that if we move the frame over the canvas of our mind’s eye we can gain greater focus and clarity, as well as perspective on our problems, challenges and goals.
This means we can use literal or imaginary frames to change our perspectives, our perceptions and so our reality. This #Tip is meant to encourage our brains to gain more meaning from the same picture (situation, challenge or problem); to make new connections and so see the same ‘picture’ in richer ways that can open up possibilities as well as release us from limiting beliefs, fear and even trauma.
After talking with Helen we felt that this was a great extension to last week’s #Tip22 where we using smart phone cameras to help flip images to gain new perspectives.
Got it…What’s the Science
Of course much of the science for this tip is that related to #Tip22. There are some subtle and powerful differences though.
This goes to the root again of our brain wanting to make a decision as to what is there, even if it is not. Assumptions of what should, or is expected to, be there influences what we actually ‘see’. This can really hinder us ‘seeing’ something, like a challenge or problem, differently even when we are really trying hard to see it differently. Again this is because the more we look at something the more we tend to reinforce the patterns of neural pathways that uphold the meaning that we have expected and subsequently ascribed it – so upholding the original meaning or interpretation. We get stuck in a rut. So how do we change the picture to change the narrative / meaning?
Visualising a frame in your mind’s eye doesn’t change the content of the ‘picture’ (the situation, challenge or problem) but it does subtly shift the meaning we may give it. This is especially effective for those of us that prefer to process information visually. We know colour changes both how we feel and interpret the world from #Tip17. So, for instance, a red frame could add a sense of energy or urgency to the picture, whereas a blue frame could add a sense of calm and assurance. Similarly shapes can contextualise the ‘picture’: squares tend to give a definition and security; triangles goal focus and circles a softer more carefree feel.
Now remember the brain is incredibly context sensitive. The brain structure called the hippocampus is involved in memory and learning as well as place. The hippocampus forms a combined system called the Limbic System which is associated with how we feel and process emotions in relation to context, memory and circumstances. No neurone is an island and so visualisation has the capacity to communicate and involve the brain’s visual centres in this processing of context to give meaning. In fact our brains find it difficult to distinguish between what they process with emotional intensity and reality.
Taken together then, we can appreciate how using a frame can change the emotional charge. It can also help focus of our brains’ attention. And we have repeatedly been reminded that “where our attention goes the energy flows”.
Your nervous system is most interested in changes. If there something (a stimulus) that remains constant and / or repeated your nervous system tends to switch-off (habituate) to it. This is because if you have not reacted to a stimulus or pattern, it probably isn’t that important or you cannot do much about it, so you probably don’t need to pay attention to it. This can also happen when we try and look at a ‘picture’ (a situation, challenge or problem).
Framing a ‘picture’ with different frames physically changes our perspective and challenges our internal paradigms. It also helps focus attention and almost re-present the same picture in a new way, so your brain is enticed to see new patterns and meaning. Now remember too that your brain is a pattern animal, it loves looking for new connections, associations and meaning in everything. So again, moving a frame in and out and around a ‘picture’ encourages the brain to ‘see’ (relate) even more, even though it is actually physically seeing less of the picture at any one time. Once your brain has practised and learned how to do this it will find it easier to see such patterns without necessarily the need for a frame.
So when your brain is practised in seeing ‘pictures’ (situations, challenges or problems) like this it should make you more creative, adaptive and resilient – some might say more broad minded and wiser. This is different and far more expansive than just having more factual knowledge. You can literally ‘see’ more. It can also challenge and reframe your outlook on life – your paradigms and mindsets. Where you can choose what kind of outlook you would prefer to have and / or the one that best serves you and your needs and aspirations.
So yet again here is a really simple tip that taps into some pretty complex science to give some pretty powerful results.
Watch our #Tip23 on the Instagram Live Recording….
With new The52Project mugs and a freebie “reframe-it-cut-out-frames” for everyone to download…
Our guest Helen Guinness encourages us to try this #Tip by actually physically writing and drawing our issues or goals down. This is not about being a poet or artist. It is about you getting what’s jumbled up in your head out and ideally physically down in a way you can better manipulate and ‘see’ it.
Once you have done this, what other words, shapes or colours come to mind? Add some of these where you feel they best ‘fit’. You could even make collages or arrange everyday household items on a surface to represent the thing you are trying to explore.
Now take your frame (you make your own or download ours from the Links) and use it: move it around, change frames, change the distance between the frame/s and what you have put down on paper.
Now jot down what you notice. What more are you seeing? What is different? What do you want to keep? What do you want to do with this?
Do let us know how you get on and don’t forget to tag us in any social media posts – you can also use the hashtag #The52Tips or #The52Project. We have some The52Project mugs to send to regular testers.
Watch this space…
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