Reframe Your Thinking, Get Better Answers: What the Stoics Taught

Reframe Your Thinking and Get Better Answers

The solution to many a difficult problem can be found merely by reframing the problem, thereby changing or adjusting your perception of the issue.

Reframing is a very effective technique to shift your view of a specific problem, event, or person. When you approach a situation from another perspective, you are likely to reevaluate your intentions and find alternative, acceptable solutions to your situations.

Reframing helps in two ways:

  • Reframing allows you to consider a problem within a positive—rather than a negative—context. For example, if you’re trying out a diet, you can reframe it by asking yourself “What are some foods I like that I should eat more of? What new foods can I experiment with?” rather than wondering, “What foods must I give up?” Reframing can help turn a problem into an opportunity, a weakness into a strength, an impossibility into a work-around, and a conflict into a mere lack of understanding.
  • Reframing can also broaden a problem’s context, thus helping you recognize its systemic contributors. In other words, by reframing, you look at a problem within its larger context. For example, you could reframe an individual issue, “Why won’t Tom gel with our team?” to a systemic problem, “What are the attributes of our team that make Tom feel excluded?”

“Redirect your prayers … and watch what happens”

The great Roman Emperor and Stoic Philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote in “Meditations” (trans. Gregory Hays,)

'Meditations: A New Translation' by Marcus Aurelius (ISBN 0812968255)Either the gods have power or they don’t. If they don’t, why pray? If they do, then why not pray for something else instead of for things to happen or not to happen? Pray not to feel fear. Or desire, or grief. If the gods can do anything, they can surely do that for us.

But those are things the gods left up to me.

Then isn’t it better to do what’s up to you—like a free man—than to be passively controlled by what isn’t, like a slave or beggar? And what makes you think the gods don’t care about what’s up to us?

Start praying like this and you’ll see.

Not “some way to sleep with her”—but a way to stop wanting to.

Not “some way to get rid of him”—but a way to stop trying.

Not “some way to save my child”—but a way to lose your fear.

Redirect your prayers like that, and watch what happens.

Idea for Impact: Reframe, Always Reframe

If you find yourself stuck with a problem or difficult situation, try reframing your view of that problem. Consider alternate perspectives, revise your goals, and reconsider how you see the way forward.

To reframe, simply step back from your present viewpoint and alter the “lens” through which you perceive the reality. Discover your unspoken assumptions, challenge your beliefs, change the attributes of your perception of the problem, and downplay or emphasize various elements of the situation. By “looking at it another way” you can derive new meanings and define different courses of action.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *