nlp reframing image

NLP Reframing Explained

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy way to find a positive aspect and approach to life’s obstacles and challenges? NLP Reframing can be learnt by anyone and applied to help you feel more resourceful and resilient in everyday life as well as in difficult situations. This blog aims to give you a straightforward and practical guide so you can benefit from using NLP Reframing right now.

What You Need to Know About NLP Reframing

1. Why is NLP Reframing Useful?

If I had to choose only one NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) approach to take with me to a nlp reframing explaineddesert island, it would probably be this one. It is easy to use, endlessly helpful in allowing you to access a more resourceful way of engaging with life, and requires no special tools or equipment – just you. And it might just be very helpful in handling some of the challenges of desert island life.

When we are stressed, feel low, tired or overwhelmed it can be more difficult to find positive solutions. Whether it is finding more resourceful ways of dealing with situations at home or work, with people or feelings, having access to this way of thinking allows you to get into a more constructive problem solving or creative mode.  How you think about the problem profoundly affects your capacity to work with it.

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?” Captain Jack Sparrow

I am not suggesting a trite glossing over of genuine difficulties, or a blind optimism that refuses to engage with life’s realities. This is simply a useful way to harness your abilities that can be applied to any area and on any level. Whether you are grappling with major challenges or just enjoying a greater appreciation of everyday life. If you don’t believe me (or Captain Jack Sparrow), try it for one week, day in and day out. Try using the reframes suggested here and see how you feel by the end of that week. What felt different and what changed in your life?

 2. What is NLP Reframing?

One could say that positive NLP Reframing is just thinking about a difficult or negative situation in a way where you can find some good. There are a number of ways to do this and maybe the easiest way to get started is to look at how you can change your perspective on something by considering it in a different context or changing the meaning.

 3. NLP Reframing – Changing the Context

This approach offers a vast number of possibilities, but here are three areas where considering the situation in a different context there may be a positive resource you can draw upon.

Change the timeframe

Sometimes we can become very caught up in the complexity or drama of a situation. It can be helpful to mentally fast-forward – will it matter when we look back upon it in one year, five, ten, twenty or more? If it does, then what will have been the really important aspects that we will look back upon? Can we use that perspective will help us in guiding our decisions and actions now?

Change the scenario or setting

Is there are setting or situation where the difficulty or someone’s behaviour would be positive or useful? This can provide a more constructive platform for looking at how to take the positives back into that difficult setting and build upon them, exploring when a response is useful or appropriate. Robert Dilts online NLP Encyclopaedia gives us many useful examples and insights about NLP Reframing – it is accessible and a superb resource if you are curious about NLP: NLP University Encyclopedia [1].

Change our perspective – zoom in or out

nlp reframing image 3


In my post NLP Chunking Explained [2] I wrote about how it can be helpful to zoom in and out. Changing our level of perspective is another way to use NLP Reframing. How does the situation look if we go in to a greater level of specific detail (chunking down) or is it more helpful to zoom out and consider the bigger picture, creating a broader context (chunking up)?

4. NLP Reframing – Changing the Meaning

Another really powerful way to use NLP Reframing is to re-align meaning. This can dramatically change how we feel about things, which can allow us to respond more resourcefully.

Reframing meaning for yourself

For example, if you are trying to lose weight by eating healthy foods, possibly in smaller portion sizes, and exercising more – that is a good strategy to lose weight. But you may feel hungry at times and that might prompt unhealthy snacking as a reaction. Feeling hungry within that context can then mean that you are doing really well in sticking to your healthier way of eating. It shows that your body is noticing that you are eating less and exercising more and that you are taking good steps towards being healthier. So feeling hungry is transient because your body is adjusting and will reset its hunger response levels, and this is proof that you are on track.

Similarly with stopping smoking: if you feel emotionally scratchy as your body’s chemical balance adjusts it is a sign that you are giving up – you are being successful, stay with it.

The example I remember from my NLP training was “it is good that you are confused because that shows you are learning something new”! How true, as we reconfigure ideas and introduce new concepts there are times when confusion is a necessary precursor to understanding.

Reframing the meaning of the behaviours of others

When dealing with other people’s emotions and behaviours it can be helpful to look for the positive intention underneath, or to recognise their motivation. Seeing the essential positive humanity and our universal human frailties in our interactions, and valuing that.

nlp reframing image 4For example, seeing the insecurity or anxiety behind an over-zealous manager’s behaviour. It can then become less personal, giving us more mental space and clarity to think about how best to interact. Knowing that love is often the wellspring from which parental advice flows, whatever the age of their adult children. Reframing the advice as an expression of love.

5. When to Use Reframing

NLP Reframing doesn’t mean these challenges are not genuine, it simply allows you to access a more constructive state of mind for dealing with them. To quote another very great mind, the wonderful and incredibly effective family therapist Virginia Satir: “Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem” [3]. Sometimes the coping strategies we have created over time, our habits and limiting beliefs can contribute towards keeping us “stuck”. We may benefit from the software update that NLP aims to facilitate.

NLP Reframing gives you an easy and immediate way to access more resourceful ways of coping. If you are intrigued, do try it for yourself for a week. It is fun and free and the more you do it the easier it becomes. And if you feel confused, remember that is a good sign!

I hope you have found this to be of interest and if you have any questions about NLP and Coaching, or would like to book a free initial 15 minute meeting, please do contact me.

References and Resources:

[1] NLP University Encyclopedia

[2  NLP Chunking Explained

[3] 10 Empowering Virginia Satir Quotes