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Reframe... and watch out for the Rats!

An article by EMD Project Manager Kate Stephenson

Resilience. Determination. Focus. All buzz words which feature daily on social media in January as people try to embrace the new year with positivity. Given the unique year we all had in 2020, it’s often hard to see the positives or the light at the end of the tunnel. When I worked in health and safety, there was a big drive for positivity which in turn assisted with wellbeing and keeping people happy in the workplace. The cheesy ‘buzzword’ at that point was ‘reframe’ which is often cited in those management books we all have on our office shelves. In its simplest form, it’s a cognitive behavioural technique that encourages us to take any given situation and find the positives. This will then assist with changing your feelings about the situation which will change your emotions, and thus also change your experience.

This is something that did resonate with me, and I try to use it in my daily life (though I do need to pick the right time to use it at home as telling my other half to ‘reframe’ when stuck in a traffic jam didn’t go down so well).

I find the most powerful part of reframing is recognising when I need to reframe. It puts an instant stop to the negative emotions and forces me to take a breath and start over.

Something I struggle with is overthinking and assuming I know the outcome of a situation (or what people are thinking) before it’s happened. I’d give Mystic Meg a run for her money.

Reframing has helped me with this as I now try to think positively and focus on the thousand things that have been arranged rather than the one bad thing that may never happen. This stops me going through every scenario in my head and convincing myself that disaster is looming! This technique has proved invaluable in my career in events as sleep is at a premium when on site, so a sleepless night of worrying the night before an event isn’t something any event manager wants.

When I was a teenager, I belonged to a choir and we travelled the world singing in some amazing places. I’ve sung for the late Pope John Paul II, at The Royal Albert Hall, for the Dominican Sisters of Fatima to name but a few. Our choir teacher herself was a Sister and she arranged all our visits herself. She was a wonderful person, and gave her whole heart and soul to the choir and she helped shape me into the person I am today. As a group of teenagers, we would stay in cheap and cheerful accommodation, usually very basic and the kind of place TripAdvisor would give zero stars to were it around at the time. Sister would tell us all the accommodation was rat infested with holes in the mattresses and fleas in the beds and we’d all go with a sense of dread and worry. On arrival, it was always so much better than we anticipated and despite it being a TripAdvisor failure, it was so much better than we expected so we were happy! The woman was a genius.

So, my new years resolution: I will always reframe in difficult or dark times and if something isn’t perfect, at least its not rat infested.

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