This post will cover the concept of mental framing, the process that subconsciously occurs in all of us and is fully responsible for how we view everything in our lives.
I’m writing this to serve as a way for readers to get a quick understanding of a topic that is quintessential to our cognitive journey. Since framing is such an important aspect of our mental training, it will appear frequently in other posts as a tool for controlling and understanding our mindset.
It is essential that we understand framing as it dictates how we process and react to every situation we encounter.
So what IS mental framing?
“Life is what you make It.” is something we’ve all heard before and it is also the embodiment of mental framing. If we learn to control our frame, our emotional state will improve drastically regardless of what life throws at us.
A mental frame is kind of like a picture frame. It determines where the picture begins and ends, and our simulated viewpoint of the image. Now imagine we remove the frame and the scene of the picture continues to expand outwards infinitely. We wouldn’t be able to make sense of it or even distinguish it from the rest of reality.
Without these constraints or “frames” the things that happen in our lives have no meaning. There is no cause or effect for anything, and it is impossible to derive any logical conclusions.
Let’s take a real life example and figure out the frames that give the situation meaning to us:
Situation: Driving to work.
- We are driving to work to make money.
- We are making money to pay for food, utilities, shelter, and modern commodities.
- We pay for these things because they are necessary to our survival and quality of life.
- We are using a car because it is the most convenient and efficient way for us to travel.
- This is because a personal car is there strictly for our use, as opposed to public transportation.
- We are drinking coffee because it gives us energy which improves our quality of work and makes us feel better.
You could keep going back and framing until the beginning of time. Without these reference points, the mundane task of driving to work suddenly becomes us blinking into existence in a metal contraption hurling down some sort of strange black path at an alarming speed.
Now, these are all very basic, neutral frames. Things we don’t really give much thought because they are consistent and static. What about those more complex situations though? The ones that leave you feeling confused as to why we (or someone else) did something?
There’s a bit more of a grey area here, but it is within this grey area that all the magic happens.
The Yin and Yang of Frames
For almost any given situation, we have the choice to either frame it in a positive light, or to plunge it into the dark clutches of negativity.
As we frame things negatively we affect our own state of mind in the same way. Negative frames allow us to feel justified playing the victim. They give us more excuses as to why we can or cannot do something and this keeps us from our goals.
We are what we eat, so if we feed our brain negativity we can be sure of the result.
This goes both ways however, and framing things in a positive way will improve our mood and help us to develop compassion for others.
Let’s add a variable to the example above and determine some negative and positive frames for it.
Situation: Driving to work. Suddenly, someone recklessly cuts us off at an intersection nearly causing an accident.
- WHAT is WRONG with this guy?
- WHAT an A**HOLE this guys doesn’t care about anyone but himself!
- This guy doesn’t know how to drive at all, he doesn’t deserve a license.
- I remember when I did something like that; I was having a terrible day and running very late. Poor guy.
- Maybe he is very tired and his reaction time is off.
- Perhaps it was just a simple mistake that, in the moment, he felt he had to commit to or cause an even greater mix-up.
As we can see, these two ways of rationalizing the same situation have DRASTICALLY differing results.
If we can CHOOSE to take the positive road we will find ourselves in a much happier place most of the time.
We can apply this framing power to nearly EVERY situation in our lives with a little creativity. No matter how devastating the circumstance may be there are always two sides to the coin.
Frame it, Achieve it!
I hope this post has enlightened you to the importance of framing, and has shown you how it is a powerful force in controlling our mindset.
Mastering the art of positive framing will help us to reduce stress and achieve more, while also helping us connect to others by seeing things from their point of view.
Since this is a shorter reference post, I imagine there’s a good chance you got here from another article’s link. If that IS the case, here’s a shortcut to return to the previous page and finish reading!