Dr. Susan Giurleo challenged members of a community I belong to. She asked us to think about what out “helping super-powers” were. At first, I struggled with this, because I don’t necessarily think of myself as having superpowers. But the question made me start paying attention.
And what I realized is that there are a few things that I am really good at in therapy. I won’t turn this into a brag session about me. Instead, I’m going to focus on one of my favorite superpowers: the re-frame.
Re-framing is a tool that I use all the time in my sessions. Essentially, it means that I take something a client has said and I look for another way to view it. If the situation were to be seen visually, I take the frame of meaning a client has built around a situation and I change the angle, or I slide it to the side.
Re-framing is one of my favorite tools because it is so powerful. I bet you have experienced the power of a reframe. Not sure about that? Here, let me offer a re-frame of the re-frame.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone you really trust about something that was hard or painful? Something that was really eating you up? And they were able to offer a slightly different perspective on that situation that really eased the pain? Something that made you reconsider your entire reaction?
That is a re-frame.
Now what’s interesting about this is that nothing tangible in the situation changed. Whatever was hard when you sat down to talk with your friend is still present in your life. Whoever is frustrating you will most likely continue there behavior. The exterior elements of the situation have remained precisely the same.
What shifted was your perspective.
Your Perspective Shapes Your Experience
And perspective is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. Whether an event is slightly irritating or deeply painful depends on how we are viewing it. Whether something is a kind gesture or a declaration of love depends on the angle of the story we tell about it. Perspective is powerful because most of how we feel about the world is dictated by our internal understanding, not by the external events.
So, when I sit with a client and use my skills with perspective, language, and empathy to create a possible re-frame of a client’s painful situation, I’m using a truly “super-powered” skill. I haven’t thought of it that way before. In fact, my own re-frame came from Susan’s prompt and from hearing from other people who were able to make important changes in their lives because of a well-place re-frame.
Today’s post is about walking my talk and owning one of the things I’m actually good at–because that’s what I encourage my clients to do.
Please share your own helping superpowers in the comments.
And if you think that a re-frame superpower might help you out, feel free to give me a call.