Reframing: Responding To What Is [3/5]

Mark O’Connor: So Rocky, when you say that, I’m going to throw one at you, and then I’m going to ask you a question after it. So I’m going to basically contradict myself. So one of the other strategies that we’ve worked on that I think is really important right now is reframing. And we could look at this, and it’s so ironic that people, often when they’re working really hard, want to just stay at home and just do nothing and relax. And now obviously when they’re not allowed to go out there, inside, they’re caged, they feel totally overwhelmed about being inside and not being able to go outside. So the reframe really has to be, what can we do that is going to be advantageous as a consequence of this particular situation we’re in? And we have the option to do the things that we weren’t able to do when we’re able to move around freely.

So things like reading a book, learning a new hobby, YouTubing how to juggle or how to play a guitar or whatever it may be. We’ve got these absolutely enormous opportunities that we’ve never had before, because we’re going to be at home. We can connect with our family in a far deeper level than we have before, obviously maintaining the two meter distance, but we’ve got an opportunity that has never presented itself before. So the reframing, I think, is going to be adding into your two strategies about how long do you want to be like this? Well, here’s an opportunity. Let’s be positive about what we can get out of this situation. But this is my question where I contradict myself. So we’ve got this opportunity to connect with our family, but we’ve also got this great opportunity to have bigger conflict with our family than we’ve ever had before.

And I know from personal experience that some of the doubts or the uncertainty or the lack of clarity about what we can and cannot do is causing some conflict within families about how to handle the situation. Are we going to work? Are we’re going out for dinner, or are we going over to a friend’s place? What is okay to do and what isn’t okay? Obviously we get some information and some advice from the government, but because of that lack of clarity, it’s causing conflict. Conflict can arise out of a lot of different situations. So my question to you, Rocky, is, reframing is great. I can spend more time with my family. But what about when we start to get a bit cooped up, we get a bit frustrated, and that descends into some conflict in our households. What do we do?


Rocky: It’s challenging Mark, and it’s hard for me to just give this flat out advice because it’s different in different families. But I guess what I would say is the way I would reframe things is I would actually encourage students and teachers or whoever’s listening to this to start this practice of identifying three good things that happened today, because that changes our focus and that reframes things immediately for us. So we have a game, the card game, Mark, where we call it On The Plus Side. So it’s like, “this sucks, I’m stuck at home, I’m stuck with people I don’t want to be with.” So we acknowledged what is. Then we say, “On the plus side…” Just doing that, “on the plus side,” and then go and look on the plus side. And what can you find? And I’ve come to see, Mark, that there’s always a plus side if we look for it. Always.

But when we’re focused on negativity and conflict and upset, just can’t see it  because you’re surrounded by that all the time. So the questions we ask ourselves will direct our mental focus. It’s like having a spotlight. “Well, where do you want to be putting that spotlight?” I say, “I hate this. I’m arguing with my parents,” or whatever’s going on. It is what it is, acknowledge it. We’re not sticking our head in the sand. We’re not saying it’s not happening. It is happening. It’s not good. On the plus side… And go and find that. What’s the plus side? And the plus side is different for all sorts of different people.

I can tell you personally, I did this myself, Mark, and I actually went… So on the plus side, I’m actually at home because my job was traveling a lot. So I’m actually spending some more time at home. For me, spending time with my family is a positive. It’s not a negative. So that was a plus side. And the other thing is, I’ve wanted to be creative and create content and do things like you and I are doing right now and putting it out into the world, and I was always too busy to do it. So that’s a plus side. I can be more creative and do things like that. So your job and your responsibility is to find a plus side in these terrible times. But they’re not terrible all of the time.

Mark: So again, Rocky, it sort of comes back to what we were talking about. The reframing is a real choice. It’s a real opportunity to look at things from a positive mindset. And I know you’re a big proponent of the weeks’ work and it is a good opportunity to really buy into that and go, “What is going well? What’s going right?” Because focusing in on what’s going wrong, is, like you said, important to validate, but not important to sit in and dwell upon.

Rocky: Right. Because then we’re participating in spreading that.


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