The 3 minute re-frame

How you feel at any given time depends largely on what you are thinking about at that moment. Dwelling on a negative experience will cause you to relive the moment over and over again. Similarly, thinking of positive experiences will lift your mood. The 3 minute reframe is about putting you in the right frame of mind for the task ahead. Here is an example of a typical situation for many of us:

You arrive home after a bad day at work, but before entering the house you sit in the car for a moment contemplating the possible chaos unfolding inside. Your partner and kids arguing about petty things with no consideration for the hellish day you’ve endured. You imagine the expectation on you to sort everything out. You become even more frustrated, resentful and even feel helpless.

There are plenty of other circumstances where we find ourselves feeling like this. It’s not just those of us with children.

The first thing to recognise is that the situation is not frustrating/upsetting you – it is actually you upsetting you. By allowing yourself to imagine a negative set of circumstances (in reality everybody in your house might be sat quietly on the sofa watching television) you create, or further, a negative frame of mind. As the deeper mind struggles to differentiate between reality and imagination your body suffers the same adverse reaction either way. You eventually walk in the house and regardless of what is happening you act in a bad mood towards everybody there. The chances are you’ll have a bad evening and wake up the next day feeling rubbish and primed for yet another bad day. And so it goes on …

Alternatively you could try a 3 minute re-frame. It’s simple and very effective.

In the circumstances above you would sit in the car for about 3 minutes before going inside, but instead of imagining a negative set of circumstances you would ask yourself: ‘what would the best dad/mum in the world look like?’ I often imagine myself going through the door and going down to my knees as my young daughters come running and screaming “Daddy!” We have cuddles and they excitedly tell me about their day and I enthusiastically listen and ask them to tell me more. I continue these positive thoughts thinking about my wife and then imagine a fun filled evening ahead.

After 3 minutes of playing out this scenario in your head you will have reframed your mind and emotional state. You can’t feel two opposite emotions at the same time so the negative stuff gets pushed aside. You get excited about the night ahead and spending time with your family and naturally play out the circumstances you imagined when you walk through the door.

This technique can be applied to most situations where you feel overwhelmed, frustrated or scared. Just consider: what would the best (whatever role you are in at the time, including work) in the world look like in this situation? You’ll be amazed how the world can appear to change in only 3 minutes!


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