Question: What do you have to do today?
(Go ahead, take a moment and mentally run down the list).
If your list is chock full of amazing, good on you, girl. You can stop reading right here. Go get started on all of those incredibly fun, fulfilling things to do.
But if your list feels endless, exhausting, or like a total buzzkill, there’s something — yes, to do — about that. It’s called “reframing,” and it’s one of the MVPs of training your brain and feeling better.
(Totally not kidding. I use this strategy so much it’s now become my default position.)
Reframing is a technique used in cognitive therapy and neurolinguistic programming. The short version: it’s a communication pattern that affects our actions, behaviors and other outcomes.
And it’s a self-care technique that you want in your arsenal, because it does alla’ this:
- clarifies the conversations you have with yourself
- magically modifies your mindset, and
- changes your outlook, or the “frame” from which you see the world.
It’s literally like wearing the same glasses for most of your life, and then getting a new prescription with fancy, fabulous frames that allows you to see things you never saw before.
And once you practice, you can use your reframing skill set to get rid of your terrible “to-do’s” in a few steps:
- Pull out your to-do list.
- Imagine for a moment that everything that you “have” to do becomes something that you “get” to do — or, if that’s a stretch, notice that they’re things you are actually choosing to do (even if you don’t want to).
- In each instance, simply replace the word “have” for the word “get” or “choose.”
In other words, change your frame from having to do something to getting or choosing the chance to do something.
Again, this takes practice — after all, you’ve been practicing your current mental framework for years, and old habits die hard. But, when you get it, reframing can work nearly every time.
Even your least favorite tasks are usually things that are, indeed, voluntary choices. Exercising? You get to do this because your body is healthy enough (and you’ve got childcare — woohoo). Eating better? You get to do this because you have the insanely good fortune of living near grocery stores full of food (and you’ve got resources to buy — yum). Paying bills? You get to do this in exchange for receiving products and services that you want and need (or at least help you get real authentic with yourself about where your money is going).
This is reframing at its best. By replacing “have” with “get,” you’ll see that your to-do list actually offers opportunities for mindfulness and gratitude that are so surprising, they might as well be gift-wrapped.
Go ahead and give it a try, and you might be pleasantly surprised at all that you get in return.