Have you ever confronted a situation in your business or life and had one type of experience or outcome (happy, sad, great, awful), and then had a very similar event happen at another time, yet had a completely different outcome?
Imagine walking into a room full of your friends versus a room filled with strangers.
What was your immediate feeling just now reading the two scenarios?
Perhaps one felt less stressful than the other? Maybe one sounded exciting, the other gave you butterflies…
Similar situation — people in a room — but isn’t it interesting how distinct your response can be, based on what you perceive about the people, the room, the outcomes, the challenges, your role… ultimately your comfort in dealing with the situation.
The way framing works is to give you control in situations when you feel out of control.
Let’s say walking into the stranger room made you feel nervous, but walking into a room of friends felt exciting.
Try flipping the emotions over and feel the excitement or nervousness wth the opposite group…
That’s how framing works. You shift your perception of the situation based on what you believe it means for you.
The situation itself doesn’t change, only the lens through which you see it.
The frame you put around an experience colours the experience itself.
The same experience can take on a wholly different “reality” if you ascribe a different meaning to what you think will happen (forecasting) or what did happen (memory).
In the same way, two people can experience the same ‘truth’, yet have totally unique perspectives on what happened, how it made them feel, how they responded, the emotional content of the experience and what the event meant for them.
We’ve all argued with a spouse…
This is probably why eyewitness testimony is often tricky. The actual events get coloured by the lens through which the witness views them.
We frame our lives by choosing what our experiences mean, and we mostly do this subconsciously.
We attribute meaning based on our internal filters.
Imagine having various Instagram filters set within your internal news feed.
As new content scrolls into your awareness, you colour and morph the experience with a filter that gives the event meaning, significance and resonance.
And you can only ever do so with your personal set of filters; those available to you specifically.
You can’t colour your experiences “green” if all your filters are skewed towards “blue”.
This filtering creates your frame for the experience.
Was it Positive? Negative? Frustrating? Safe? Traumatic? Boring…
Only you can ascribe meaning to your experiences. You are the master of your own ship.
And this is the good news🙂
YOU get to decide what frame you apply to your life.
You can frame nervousness as excitement.
Pain as growth.
Challenges as opportunities.
Let’s take nervousness as an example. This one is actually super cool — because the neurophysiology of anxiety and excitement are effectively the same.
Neurochemically, in both states you get norepinephrine (the brain’s version of adrenaline) and dopamine. These are essentially focussing chemicals. They say, “Hey, something unexpected or uncomfortable is happening here – pay attention!!”.
Physiologically these neurochemicals trigger the adrenals to dump adrenaline in the system — now you’re super focussed, hyper alert and vigilant!!
Palms sweat… Heart rate increases… Pupils dilate…
You are primed for fight, flight or freeze.
But which do you choose?
That will depend largely on your framing of the situation.
Are you scared? Or stoked?
Are you walking into peril, or opportunity?
If you decide the situation is perilous, dangerous or unsafe (and it’s important here to understand that perceived social danger is just as biologically important as perceived physical danger) you can only bring into your frame those thoughts, beliefs and actions that match your negative expectation.
Literally, you limit the actions you can take by limiting your belief about the situation.
This is why framing is so important.
Your beliefs dictate the possible actions you can take, which dictate the possible results you can achieve.
Your frame of the situation acts as a filter, and selects the thoughts, beliefs and actions required to fulfill your expectation of the event.
Think of it this way — Your Frame sets your Expectation.
And you get what you expect.
When you walk into a pitch meeting feeling nervous, unprepared and not confident in your work, you set the expectation that you’re not confident and that is what your biology aligns to. It says, “ok this is a threat, we’ll give you a threat response.”
And that response is… Freeze!
Not ideal for a big pitch.
However, walk into the same meeting, feeling the same nerves, and reframe it as excitement to present your work (remember it’s the same neurophysical feeling – sweaty palms, increased heart rate, apprehension) those nerves become excitement. And instead of seeing threat, your biology sees challenge with a hint of risk that’s just outside you comfort zone but which you’re willing to step into, and now you’re on the verge of triggering a flow state.
Same event. Same neurochemistry. Same biology. Different Frame.
Freeze or Flow.
Reframing is a subtle art; but a significant one.
Being able to switch on your biology to trigger flow:
- expanded consciousness
- high vibration energy
Versus triggering panic:
- restricted thinking
- limiting beliefs
- limited options
- slow vibration energy
This is the art of getting your biology to work for you, rather than against you.
This is the art of peak performance in the field.
Having the ability to control how you frame the events and experiences you encounter on a daily, hourly, moment-to-moment basis creates the texture of your life.
Negative frames create negative outcomes.
Positive frames do the opposite.
So it’s important to be ever-vigilant of your thinking, and discerning about the meaning you ascribe to experience.
You want to build internal filters (think back to the instagram example) that colour your reality in a way that aligns to your goals, to where you want to go and who you wish to become.
When you frame your life with expansive beliefs and accurate thinking, the actions you take will more likely be aligned to your desired outcomes.
You will become more prone to taking actions that steer you towards your goals.
And when you do this daily, you trigger an avalanche of compounding gains — small daily improvements over time lead to extraordinary results.
Frame your world from a perspective of growth, optimism, positivity and rigorous self-awareness, and you’ll be able to face uncertainty, challenge and chaos with calm, control and confidence.
Do this consistently and you’ll create an extraordinary life.
Frames matter, and when you get them aligned to your mission they create a positive flow-on effect from your mindset to your beliefs, actions, habits and results.
Have you used deliberate framing before? If so, how did it help shift your experience?
And if not, where do you think it will be most useful to you?
Let me know in the comments 👇🏼