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Framing

By Dr Art Lynch

We frame the events and messages in our lives based on our own experiences, the events of at the time and our own perceptions of truth. We are predisposed though upbringing, our social or economic status, who we hang around with, what we watch or listen to and our education level or field. These reflect, reinforce and form our bias, prejudice, what stereotypes we use and our framing of the world around us.

Re-framing is a part of everyday life, conversation, communication and events. We experience framing in jokes, advertising, entertainment, discussion and argumentation.

Look at what provokes strong emotional responses. Humor, politics, religion, passion, conflicts and context influence our responses and the impact of these responses.

Human beings make themselves happy, confident, sad, anxious, or even miserable over our interpretation of events, rather than the events themselves. We choose to see the world and interpret what happens to us or around us through out own prism.

We set up limiting frames that keep us from being open to change, opposing views or compromise. That said, most people either are not aware of or will not admit their own limiting frames, but are quick to see it in others and be judgmental. How often have you thought "how could he think that way" or "why doesn't he just....."

It is difficult, but we should open our own windows, raise the bar and attempt to be open to seeing the ways we can help ourselves by understanding the other guy, considering alternative solutions and being open to other ways of doing or interpreting things.

Try to spot the limiting frames you put on your situations or ideas, and why you get habitually stuck or cemented in your own view or perception.

When confronted with problems, opportunities and other situations, get into the habit of looking for alternatives frames to the most obvious ones. Ask yourself "what else could this mean?" and "Where else could this be useful?"

How do we use frames for problem solving?

Ask:

1. Meaning: "What else could this mean?" "What alternative causes could there be?"

2. Context: "Where else could this be useful?" "Could this be happening because of situation?"

3. Learning: "What can I learn from this? "How can I use this new information?

4. Humor: "Is there a funny side to this?" "How would (fill in comedians name) tell this story?"

5. Solution: "What comes next?" "What would I do if this were not an obstacle?"

6.Silver Lining: "What opportunities does this problem offer?" "Make lemons into lemonade."

7. Points of View: "How does this look to other people involved?" "How can I look at this differently?"

8. Heroes: "How would (fill in the bank) look at this?" "Has this been soled before by someone else?"

9. Acquiescence: "Would it hurt if we just left this alone?" "Does this really harm anyone or anything?"

When you are in the middle of a crisis, find yourself growing bitter or angry, feel "put upon", feel resentful or are just burnt out, asking the questions above and thinking in terms of re-framing can really save you from making mistakes and unintentionally harming yourself or others.

In part from the website: Lateral Action: the creative Pathfinder.