It is a fact that, if you are human, at some point in your life the sh*t will hit the fan. If you’re a parent the odds are even higher. And if you’re a mother, let’s be honest, sometimes the shit will hit the fan more than once a day. #truth
While the sh*t hits the fan in our house quite regularly (I have 3 young kids after all!), something happened a few weeks ago that involved one of my children that was a little more serious. Read the whole story here.
In the lead up to this I had been practising 5 strategies to train my brain for when the sh*t hits the fan, because at some point it definitely will… and it did!
Below is one of these exercises. I encourage you to read the purpose of these exercises and how to practice them effectively by reading the introduction to this series prior to getting into the exercise.
Exercise 3: Reframe
Homeschooling has never been on my bucket list.
I know for many it is a beautiful thing, even imperative, but for me? Nope. No way!
I am an impatient teacher at the best of times – just ask my younger brother how it went that one time I tried to teach him how to drive a car, all those years ago.
So, when Covid-19 hit and we were all suddenly confined to our homes and schoolwork was being sent home, I freaked!
I was expected to teach my three kids, who are in three different years at primary school?
Suddenly, I really had to utilise the brain training technique of reframing. I always practice what I preach after all.
Reframing = the science of deliberately changing your perspective.
Reframing is the science of deliberately changing your perspective. I say it is a science, because what is happening is that by deliberately changing our perspective, old neural pathways (the way our brain communicates with regions) are changed, and new ones are created.
WHICH BRAIN REGIONS ARE AFFECTED?
This really is determined by what it is we are reframing. However, I would like to give a shout out to the orbitolateral cortex and lateral prefrontal cortex (don’t worry, you don’t need to remember their names!) as they play a big role in identifying thoughts and changing them.
You can’t reframe without consciousness.
Where consciousness resides in the brain is still heavily debated, but you know, as well as I do, that it exists. And if you have practised exercises 1 and 2 in this series (HERE they are again if you missed them) you will know how to be truly conscious.
When the sh*t has hit the fan, it is up to you to be conscious of your thoughts so you can reframe them. This takes practise!
Practising reframing will strengthen your brain, i.e. your new neural pathways.
So, the next time you are faced with something that sends your thoughts into a spin, leading to unease, your brain will be trained. It will be quicker to recognise your thinking and reframe it. Which in turn strengthens your neural pathways.
It is a wonderful positive feedback loop!
4 easy ways to start training your brain to reframe
1. Become conscious of your thoughts to the situation. I mean become truly curious.
a. Why is this affecting me in such a way?
b. What are my beliefs around this situation that could be affecting my perspective?
2. Question your assumptions of what is happening and what this could mean – what events from my past could bring out these thoughts in this instance?
3. Accept the situation – Reframing is not a Pollyanna way of looking at the world. There is no denial involved in reframing. However, resisting facts will lead you nowhere fast – by this I mean true facts, not your interpretation of what is.
4. Purposely look at the situation from a different angle ie. perspective. Imagine moving around the situation like a fashion photographer does around a model; all different angles. Imagine being someone else (a real person you know) looking at the same situation.
a. What would they think?
b. What are the facts here?
c. Are there positives in this situation?
d. Could you learn something?
So, when it came to my homeschooling dilemma I revisited these steps. I had to.
What emerged is that it is not actually the homeschooling that was the problem but rather the time I now didn’t have to work on Tough Mothers.
I love my business. Teaching mothers about matrescence (the transformation a woman goes through when she becomes a mother), their own brain and how women can train their brain to make permanent improvements in their life to become truly fulfilled, is my passion. Being dragged away from it was heart-breaking.
However, when I implemented the above steps, I remembered that this situation is only temporary (they will go back to school one day!). I also remembered how lucky we are to be healthy and safe (actually, once I looked at the facts I felt incredibly self-centred and entitled to be upset about something so small, when for many people the situation is much, much worse).
In the end, I accepted the situation. And miraculously homeschooling was not so bad after all (just to be clear though it is still not on my bucket list, and it never looked anything like this photo). At one point, my kids even said I am a pretty good teacher…. What the?!?
“Once I looked at the facts I felt incredibly self-centred and entitled to be upset about something so small”
Note to self: must look more into the belief that I am an impatient teacher!
Please don’t think reframing only works in trivial situations like homeschooling or my pink dressing gown incident (Check out our private Facebook group The Tough Mothers Village here to read about that doozy).
Dr Viktor Frankl utilised this technique while in Nazi concentration camps. His best-selling book Man’s Search For Meaning is a must read for anyone, and particularly if you want to see how reframing works on a much larger scale.
Now it’s your turn!
Reframing is a powerful gift you can give yourself and your brain.
This is exercise 3 of 5. I will share each exercise one at a time, so you have plenty of time to implement it, and start training your brain. So, be sure to check my blog regularly, or sign up to get priority access.