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 touchpoints, all designed and positioned to convey the sense and meaning we want to convey.
An example of this might be how a political party or pressure group asks people if they would approve of far-right groups holding public events.
Framed in neutral terms, the answer is likely to be against such approval.
However, if the same question was framed in the context of defending freedom of expression, the response would likely change towards a higher level of approval.
The power of the frame and the challenge of the Stoics
In The Stoic Challenge, William Irvine observes:
“…the contribution of the Stoics to psychology is particularly impressive; in fact, the Stoics’ testing strategy is based on their appreciation of a phenomenon that has been rediscovered by modern psychologists, who christened it the effect framing”.
The way we mentally characterize a situation has a profound impact on the way we respond emotionally.
Changing our dominant emotional or energetic state has a profound effect on the positive creations and outcomes we experience, so any change in how we reframe a situation will have a significant impact on those creations and outcomes.
The power of the frame in our internal dialogue
The word choices we use have power because of the underlying emotional associations they invoke and the actions that result from those associations.
This applies both to our internal dialogue and to the words we use in everyday speech.
This 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 internal states and external events. We are energetic beings who live in an energetic universe and it is not neutral, it is also a participatory universe.
The internal associations (conscious and unconscious) that we make and the meanings that we attribute to those associations are all based on energy.
By changing the words we use in our internal dialogue to frame an event, situation, or experience, we change the underlying energetic state.
This change in energetic state changes the results 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 best clue that you have unresourceful, useless self-talk inside your head but outside of your awareness is to take a close look at your resistance to things.
Think of something you want to have, do or be. Why don’t you have it? If you say something that is not honest”I know it’s on its way to me“You probably don’t have it clear inside what you want.
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it destiny.
Examples of the power of reframing
a personal example
About 15 years ago I had serious financial difficulties with my business that eventually led to bankruptcy.
As expected, this was a difficult time, but I made it much more difficult for myself than I needed to because the word “bankruptcy” had such negative connotations and associations for me: deep and powerful associations of failure and shame.
Given the amount of files and documentation that the bankruptcy declaration entails, 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, disgusting word bankruptcy.
Since I needed to access these files many times a day, I was constantly exposed to these extreme negative reactions.
Eventually it occurred to me to rename these folders and files to “debt freedom” – words that were charged with positive and uplifting energy.
The effect on my psychological and emotional state was hugely liberating!
Framing our Covid-19 experiences
The meaning, point and purpose of your experience of the present times is entirely what you choose it to be.
You can allow this time to weaken, diminish and disempower you, 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 huge influence on how we treat it and the effect it has on us.
When is a lockdown not a lockdown? Answer: When Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed the nation on Tuesday (April 21, 2020), he provided an update on the COVID-19 situation in Singapore and touched on what all other countries are referred to as “lockdown“As the”circuit breaker“.
This is a great example of positive framing of what the rest of us otherwise feel is a negative experience.
Here in the UK, as in most countries, we call it 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 collective action to break control of the virus and this sounds, and feels, more empowering!
Read more: The power of the frame