We’ve all heard the expression ‘tunnel vision.’ It’s an idiom that describes a person’s inability to see beyond a certain perspective. The expression originates from a bonafide medical condition where a person experiences loss of their peripheral vision.
Losing our peripheral sight would impair our ability to drive, judge distances, and make corrective or quick actions. In a similar fashion, ‘tunnel vision’ impairs our ability to see beyond our current situation and limits our sense of control, choices, options and opportunities.
As coaches we are called to help our client expand their vision when they can’t see past a certain point. One powerful technique for expanding our client’s vision and awareness is called reframing. The goal of reframing is to cause the client to shift, or at least consider, a new point of view. With reframing, obstacles can become springboards into solutions. Weaknesses can become strengths. Impossibilities can be turned into possibilities. Injustices become new perspectives. Liabilities become opportunities.
The process of reframing is simple. We take the client’s current situation and put a “new frame” around it. Here are some sample questions that you can use in reframing.
- What would it look like if you did not own this problem?
- What is it that you are not considering that could change your options?
- What would you advise your best friend to do in a situation like this?
- What is absolutely true about the situation?
- What biases are you bringing into the situation?
- If you remove the feeling of “threat, limitation, frustration, etc.” from the situation what remains?
- What is the payoff for staying in this situation?
- Where is the evidence that proves impossibility in this situation?
- What mindset might make this situation more tolerable?
- What if you did less of what doesn’t work?
- What part of this situation is less “unpleasant, unworkable, etc.”
Reframing could also be used to help the client address limiting beliefs and habitual ways of thinking about situations. You will know your attempts at helping the client reframe are successful when the client assigns a different meaning or sees his/her situation in a different light.