I CAN SEE THIS ‘MESS’
in a whole new light!
PREVIOUS: Double Binds (Part 8)
BOOK: Double Bind: A Guide to Recovery and Relapse Prevention for Chemically Dependent Sexual Abuse Survivors, Caryl Trotter 1992
• A frame is a focus of attention you give to something (“DBs”, Part 3).
Re-Framing (R-F) assigns another meaning to any upsetting situation, that helps identify, interpret & respond to it in new ways. It’s a powerful tool for solving problems which come from assumptions that insure staying stuck. Re-framing asks “How can I think about or do this differently?” (Also see AGREEMENT Frame)
• Dealing with DBs requires making cognitive leaps by using a broader way of thinking, putting our experiences into a wider context. While re-framing by itself seldom resolves a problem, it offers the potential of “softening it up” so that a solution can be uncovered – one that’s acceptable, if not always wholly appreciated. This shift in thinking leads to self-empowerment, which leads to higher functioning & satisfaction, taking us from no-win to no-lose. (MORE…)
• ACoAs are used to being trapped (‘Learned Helplessness‘), but eventually in Recovery we can come to value the inherent freedom of dealing with OR resolving our DBs. (also: Seliigman & Meyer with dogs, slides 43-53). While we start out experiencing them as a horrible trap, we can make the shift to seeing them as an opportunity to choose what works for us. There are a variety of feelings (Es) and perspectives (Ts) to each situation (As) – like how each of us grieves a death differently, or how we show our love for someone. This means that we can’t be “wrong” when we’re expressing our True Self, because each of us are unique. The damage is the same for everyone but our essence is specific to us, so we’re free to choose our own style & our own path! (Grieving & DBs)
TYPES of Re-Framing
• Context R-F – Figuring out where a ‘problem’ situation or reaction would fit better – the context that would be appropriate for it, would make it useful, make it a benefit or even an asset or skill. (Dancing in the isles in a conservative church/ synagogue /mosque would be a problem, but not at a Pentecostal or African-American Baptist church)!
• Content R-F – Shifting the focus, either on a different part of the circumstance, & asking: “What else could this mean?” OR seeing that the same situation can have a variety of meanings – good, bad or different. (Someone was frowning ‘at me’. Were they annoyed with me? OR maybe they were –– worried about a loved one
— thinking about a problem to solve
— looking at someone/thing past my shoulder that upset them….
—> none of which have anything to do with me!
• Value R-F – Changing the meaning of a word or term, often done in marketing, where a product is given a totally new purpose, a different use &/or presented to new markets. It can also be the way a phrase is accented, as in the picture.
EXP: Many pre-Christmas retailers will say they’ll help you “Pay less” with special deals, but the Berlin lingerie store Blush recommends a ‘smaller’ holiday gift: “Make your loved ones happy with less!”
DB QUESTIONS: Sooner or later we may run into someone who loves to ask unfair or impossible DB Qs – the kind that try to force the answer the questioner (S) wants, no matter which way you answer. Unless we can step outside the Bind, we’ll find ourselves in a catch-22 – angry & possibly humiliated. These Qs are usually made up of 2 parts: Reference to a ‘bad’ thing or an assumed action PLUS the issue of frequency (MORE….)
• The S starts with an accusation OR assumption about the intended target (you), then asks if they are ‘still at it’ or ‘will be doing it’. By framing the question as closed, the potential R is expected to only give a Yes/No or other one-word answer, without a chance to address the actual topic.
EXP: “Are still lying? / Have you stopped beating your wife? / When do you want to help us? / How much money can you contribute?”….
• RE-FRAMING: The only sane & self-respecting way to handle this kind of verbal trickery is to treat it as if you heard an open question, so that you respond to the underlying assumption rather than the closed question.
EXP: “What makes you think I’m a liar? / I’ve never beaten my wife and never will / I don’t have time in my schedule to help / I’ve already contribute all I can”…. (Open vs Closed Qs)
Using R-F on Senders (S)
• As we make the effort to avoid playing the DB game (DMs, Part 3), it’s important to recognize the S’s reactions when we oppose or ignore them:
— Re. themselves: ”See how good I am”. They’ll strongly protest that they are not appreciated for the benefits they provide to society, maybe tearfully wonder why their benevolence goes unnoticed, and ask to be understood as an active agent of ‘good’. DO NOT fall for it!
— Re. others: “See how bad you are”. The S will try to strike fear into the ‘closed heart’ of an R who wants to get away, accusing them of being out-of-control. And with fake alarm will point out the one who opposes them (R) to anyone who will listen, trying to enlist others in turning the resisting person around!
• By re-framing, we can think of Senders as performing a service – as gifts to help us grow. Their destructive talent is the ‘art of camouflage’, but a knowledgeable person is not fooled by this evil which masquerades as goodness. Stick with the winners & trust your gut instincts. Since you can’t win, don’t try to placate them or explain yourself!, nor be forced out of Abiding, even though the extremes of Fight or Yield are always available. (DBs, Part 6)
“Being happy is the best revenge”
NEXT: DBs – Part 1