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How to Transform Any Situation to Your Advantage
How we feel about something is entirely dependent on our perception of it. Misfortune is a point of view. That is to say, good and bad things happen to every person on the planet, but how we react to them — be it positively or negatively — is in our hands.
Your headache is an opportunity to an aspirin salesman. We tend to frame things based on how we have perceived them in the past. By changing these habitual perception patterns – through a process called reframing – you can find the most useful frame for any experience so you can turn it into something that works for you instead of against you, and learn how to change your situation for the better.
There are two types of reframing that you can use to alter your perception about an event:
Type #1: Context reframing
Context reframing involves taking something that seems upsetting or undesirable and showing how that same thing is actually a great advantage in another context. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a perfect example of this. His nose, which made him stick out among his peers, made him a hero in the context of a dark and stormy Christmas night.
The next time you’re confronted with a challenge, ask yourself how that disadvantage can be turned into an advantage, simply by changing the context and thinking about what could be done to change the situation. For example, perhaps you’re terrified of public speaking but need to make a presentation in front of your entire company. Instead of letting fear and anxiety overcome you, think about how to change your situation and view it as a positive. Maybe you don’t get much one-on-one time with the senior staff at your company, and this speech, however nerve-wracking it might be, will get to show your colleagues and superiors another side of you they might otherwise not have had the chance to witness.
Type #2: Content reframing
Content reframing involves taking the exact same situation and changing what it means. Procter & Gamble introduced Pampers to the Chinese market in 1998 by offering their disposable diapers at a low cost. Quality suffered, as did sales. Their next bid was to increase absorption and comfort, but they still weren’t getting the results they were after. It wasn’t until P&G did extensive sleep studies and were able to show that babies who wore Pampers fell asleep 30% faster that their sales numbers really started to rise. Thanks to their “Golden Sleep” campaign, Pampers is now the #1 brand in China. Same diapers, same market – but by changing the meaning, P&G was able to change the game for themselves in China.
Content reframing is one of the real secrets to life. If you can find an empowering meaning in anything that occurs, be it good or bad, you’ll be able to master your life emotionally.
In other words, instead of letting yourself live in a negative state the next time life hands you a problem, reframe the situation to find an empowering meaning, no matter how small the silver lining may be. By shifting the meaning, you’ll shift your emotions and move yourself toward a state of postivity instead of one of anxiety.
From a renewed, balanced, or what Tony refers to as a “beautiful” state, you can make better decisions, see new opportunities and improve your situation, even in the middle of an intense challenge. That is the power of reframing.
“Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions.” –Tony Robbins