5 Simple Ways to Reframe a Situation (that make a huge difference)

by Vlad Dolezal on June 13, 2009

Imagine you have a water glass, and you’ve asked two of your friends what shape is its outline.

“It’s a rectangle” says the first one.

“It’s a circle!” exclaims the other.

And they’re both right.

A water glass can be both a circle and a rectangle, depending on how you look at it. And the same is true for many situations in your life. There are several equally correct ways of looking at every situation.

Picking a more useful way of looking at the same thing is called reframing. And today, I’ll show you a few simple ways to do that.

5 simple ways to reframe a situation

Here are five great mindsets that let you reframe some common situations to make the most of them:

1. Problems are just challenges

Mark Twain said: “my life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened”. Most people do the same thing, except they use “problems” instead of “misfortunes”. Problems are not real, any more than a water glass is really a rectangle. They’re just a very inefficient way of looking at the situation.

Instead, how about you fill your life with new and exciting challenges! Wouldn’t that be much more motivating?

2. All behavior has a positive intention

Stop thinking some people are purely negative and evil. Every behavior has some positive intention behind it. Once you realize that, you can deal with “negative” people much better. For example, you can help them achieve their positive motive in a way that doesn’t harm anyone else.

3. Fear indicates a great opportunity to build confidence

When you feel butterflies in your stomach, what’s your first thought?

Is it “Uh oh, something uncomfortable coming up”? That’s okay, I’ve been there.

But since then I’ve learned that the best way to build confidence is facing your fears. Nowadays, to me, butterflies in the stomach mean “Yay! Exciting opportunity to build confidence ahead!”

And dealing with fear is one of the most exhilarating experiences. And I’m not talking about doing stupid life-threatening things either. I’m talking about completely non-lethal but equally scary situations, like public speaking, or approaching someone you’re attracted to.

4. “How can I most easily do this?”

This is a great question for reframing your attitude.

Instead of thinking “this is impossible”, or “I’ll never achieve this”, it gets you focused on finding a solution. It works like a charm because it presumes:

  • you can do it
  • there are several ways to get it done
  • it’s easy

5. “What can I learn from this situation?” (reframe failures as learning opportunities)

“I will have failed when I stop learning. Until then, every outcome is a success!”
– Tony Robbins

Feel free to steal Tony’s attitude. There’s no reason to create failure in your life. Instead, choose to face a life full of learning opportunities. It’s more productive, more motivating, and more fun!