I tend to get caught up mentally and emotionally in past events. I replay the bad experiences as if I were still there and can feel the feelings and think the thoughts I had. That means I can pretty much go through the same bad experience multiple times! And, as a human, I’ve had a ton of bad experiences that I can pick from.
There is one tool I took from NLP Hero that helps me with that. It’s called reframing. It doesn’t always work, but it works 90% of the time for me. Mostly this is because my ability to visualize things extremely well is what gets me stuck in past events, and this reframing hack involves changing that visual.
An Example Of How Reframing Helped Me
My neighbor is a sociopath. My diagnosis, but I feel like it’s pretty accurate. She does insane things in our neighborhood and doesn’t seem to care how it affects other people. I was told by neighbors that she was a prison guard when she worked. Now, she’s a miserable old woman who tries to control everything around her regardless of how it affects other people.
We had a lot of problems with her over the years but the biggest one is when she took our mutual fence down without telling us. We had three dogs at the time, and they used our backyard many times throughout the day, so we needed a fenced yard.
Thankfully I had noticed that the fence was down before we let the dogs out.
I asked her what she was doing and she said that she was giving herself more room by turning the fence boards around. I was dumbfounded and pissed off. I didn’t know what to say.
The fence was a good neighbor fence, where each section consisted of a horizontal board that either faced her house or ours – depending on the section. This means that there were a few inches of the yard that she would gain by turning all the horizontal fence board sections towards her. A few inches!
We believe this resulted because we hadn’t fixed our gate yet that she claimed was pushing against her gate. It wasn’t, but my husband was getting around to moving the boards over. He didn’t do it fast enough, so she decided to show us who was boss.
In fact, she made sure that few inches ended up pressing against our gate in a way that made it impossible to open.
It was the worst experience I’ve had with a neighbor.
She spent days coming into our yard and walking on our plants.
She played dumb when we asked her questions.
She acted like she was above us when we talked to her.
And, when she had turned all of the ugly boards towards our yard that had been in the ground or had horizontal boards removed from them, she demanded that we do not paint the fence or else she would sue us.
This is what the fence looks like because we can’t paint it.
It was then that we realized how crazy and mean she was.
I had never been angrier at anyone in my life. She had done enough things before this to test my patience, but this one just pissed me off. I wanted to go outside and hit her over the head with her hammer.
The problem is that it IS her fence and she can do what she wants with it. Moreover, we had heard from neighbors how vindictive she was, but when we experienced it for ourselves, we decided we didn’t want to provoke her to do something worse.
When she was done putting up the fence and walking through the yard, we bought locks for our gates.
After that, I spent years worrying about whether or not she was going to take down the fence boards and come into our yard again. I relived that experience over and over again as I thought about what she had done and how I felt about it. Every time I heard a hammer in her backyard (or in any yard) it was a cue to get upset and worried and angry.
How I Reframed The Situation
Part of the step-by-step technique in NLP Hero for reframing is to freeze the frame where it’s most uncomfortable. For me, that was when I was looking from my upstairs window at her stepping on my flowers. It was the biggest (not the only) moment where I wanted to tear her apart.
I distanced myself from that image and turned it into a black and white cartoon. I wrinkled up the image and made it a bit fuzzy-looking. Just that alone started to help me feel better about that moment.
Then, I made it a very small image in my mind’s eye. About the size of a postage stamp. That took away a lot of the image’s power. It made it insignificant.
Then I chose a frame for the image. The frame is made up of happy kids – kind of like a collage of kids playing or being happy – but organized into a frame around the image of her by the fence. I think I view her as a child, and the image of happy children just popped into my head. It’s a paper frame because the kids are drawn onto it.
Then in my mind’s eye, I put that framed image in between the fence boards where no one can see it. In my imagination, one day someone will take down the fence and see a little bit of history (albeit an altered visual) of how the fence came to be so ugly!
This reframing the way I see the incident has helped me to stop reliving it over and over again.
I Think This Works Best If You Have A Good Imagination
The reason NLP Hero’s reframing technique has worked for me is that I have a great imagination. That’s why I get stuck in negative thoughts so often – I imagine things worse than they are. When I can reframe the situation in my imagination, I can get unstuck from the moment.
For instance, it’s hard for me to see the moment when I think about the picture being between the fence boards. I can’t see the picture so I can’t see the moment.
I have gone through a few different moments during that time with her and created a still image that doesn’t bother me to replace what I actually saw.
I use this technique often when I visually get stuck on negative events that make me upset.