Monday, January 18, 2016

The art of reframing

In chapter 4 of Michael Frost's book, 'Jesus the Fool: The Mission of the Unconventional Christ,' he delves a little deeper into the art of reframing. In fact, that's the title of this chapter. He says...
"Reframing is simply changing the frame in which one perceives events in order to change their meaning. When the meaning changes, the person's responses and behaviors also change. It is a technique used in counseling by the school of therapists who practice neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). There therapists realize that the meaning of any event depends on the frame in which it is perceived. By changing the frame, and thereby the meaning, the counselor can assist the client in moving forward from situations that had once held them back."

They illustrate reframing with an old Chinese Taoist story about a farmer in a poor country village:
"He was considered very well-to-do, because he owned a horse which he used for plowing and for transportation. One day his horse ran away. All his neighbors exclaimed how terrible this was, but the farmer simply said, 'Maybe.'

A few days later the horse returned and brought two wild horses with it. The neighbors all rejoiced at his good fortune, but the farmer just said, 'Maybe.'

The next day the farmer's son tried to ride one of the wild horses; the horse threw him and broke his leg. The neighbors all offered their sympathy for his misfortune, but the farmer again said, 'Maybe.'

The next week conscription officers came to the village to take young men for the army. They rejected the farmer's son because of his broken leg. When the neighbors told him how lucky he was, the farmer replied, 'Maybe.'

See how the meaning of any event can be altered given a different frame? Having two wild horses is a good thing until it is seen in the context of a broken leg. The broken leg seems bad in the context of peaceful village life, but it suddenly becomes good in the context of conscription and war.

We use reframing every time we tell a joke..."

Two Types of Reframing:
"'s here that I need to differentiate between two types of reframing. The first is 'context reframing' where, as we've seen, context shifts -- allowing events or action or belief to be seen in a new light. The second is called 'meaning reframing,' where meaning shifts while context remains the same -- allowing events or action or belief to change."

This was another good chapter, however it was difficult to discern just how much to highlight. Many things would have been too long or complex to try to condense for this space. So... this is it. I do like the story of the old farmer.