All of us deal with stress. It’s a part of life, but we do have a choice on how we’re going to respond to it. Reframing our thinking is a way to minimize the stressors you perceive are there. Reframing a situation is about asking yourself if you’re seeing your problem or difficulty in the only possible way it could be.
Let’s imagine you live on a small farm, and as you are heading to the barn you see a snake just ahead. You hate snakes! Immediately your heart beats faster, your hands shake and begin to sweat, you have to decide what to do next—scream, run, get a shovel, something! You decide to take a couple of steps closer to be sure it is what you think it is, and suddenly you realize it isn’t a snake, but a rope. You feel relieved, and you can go on.
Just the thought of running into a snake can make most of us feel a bit of fear. The same is true of imagining a difficult conversation we need to have, getting called into the boss’s office, or trying to make sense of hurtful words that have been said to us. So when the stress starts, we need to breathe to slow our thinking down and calm the body. But then, we need to look at the circumstances again and ask ourselves, “Is there any other way to see this situation? Do I have all of the facts?”
STEP ONE: IS IT TRUE?
Ask the following questions:
T True? Is this stress based on truth or is my mind embellishing? Is my imagination taking off and leading my emotions astray?
R Real? Is this a real worry, or just a perceived stressor?
U Understanding? Have I looked for authentic understanding, and not assumed that I knew what others are thinking?
E Excellent? Is this thought producing anything that is productive? Am I feeling empowered or disempowered?
We must examine the truth because our thoughts and emotions can move us to a place we don’t want to be.
Let’s take a simple example to illustrate. You need help with a home project. You ask your spouse if he/she is willing to help you this coming weekend. They say NO. They don’t embellish, they just say no. Now you have to decide your next move. You might think to yourself that they just don’t care about your needs right now. In fact, they have done this before, and you don’t like it when they just say no without feeling the need to explain. You can feel yourself getting angry and a bit indignant.
Can anyone relate? Can you feel the frustration now as you think about a similar situation you have had with your spouse? Perfect! So now STOP and BREATHE. Reframe, and ask yourself if there is any other way to see this situation. Is it TRUE that he/she doesn’t care about your needs? Could it be that you’re projecting your feelings into this situation when you don’t have enough information to know what they are thinking? What outcome do you really want? Most likely, you want to have help with the project, and you want to have loving feelings toward your spouse.
STEP TWO: ASK CLARIFYING QUESTIONS.
Are you saying no because you aren’t going to help me with this project? Are you saying no because you have a project of your own this weekend? Try for understanding, and a more empowered outcome.
We can reframe our thinking, and reduce our stress.
David was greatly distressed…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. 1 Samuel 30:6 (KJV)
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