By senior consultant Jim Morris
Last week I found out that I have been eating bananas upside down my whole life. Not me upside down of course, but the banana itself. Many of you might also be eating bananas upside down. Bananas grow from the stem upwards and the stem is where I have been peeling from. However the correct and best way to peel a banana is from the top down. Turn the banana the right way up, (stem facing down) and peel it from the blossom end. All you need to do is pinch the brown stub until the peel splits, then grab hold of the banana skin and peel away. Peeling your banana this way can also remove those weird banana strings that sometimes stick to the fruit even after you've removed the skin.
Photo by Deon Black on Unsplash
Banana skin moment
My banana skin moment (metaphorically speaking) was not a huge slip up. In fact it’s pretty unimportant. I mean who really cares about the etiquette of banana peeling? However it did get me thinking. It had been a situation where I was encouraged to look at something differently. What other things could I look at differently?
I often start my workshops asking that very same question. I show people the McArthur Map. If you have never come across this map it is worth looking up. It was created by Australian Stuart McArthur who was teased as an exchange student for coming from "the bottom of the world." His map is geographically correct, just upside down (a little like my bananas), compared to other maps. On the McArthur Map, Australia is at the top of the world instead of at the bottom. I show this map to groups and challenge them to look at whatever topic we are discussing from a different angle.
Learning by taking a different perspective
This idea is linked to reframing. Reframing is an interesting thing to do and can unlock our patterned way of looking at things. Reframing is seeing the current situation from a different perspective, which can be tremendously helpful in problem solving, decision making and learning. An example would be; instead of asking someone why they are always showing up late to meetings, to ask them what they need to be on time.
One of my favorite moments of reframing came from a participant working for a car navigation firm. We were using the art of reframing as an influencing skill. The question I asked was “influence me to buy your satellite navigation system”. The answer came, “don’t see this this as sat nav technology, see it as the smile on your grandmothers face when you arrive on time for her birthday. What we sell is not an electronic box, what we sell is happiness and peace of mind”.
Reframe and be happier
If we can learn to see things differently we might be happier as a result. If events that impact us negatively are always seen by us in the worst possible way, reframing and looking for the positive in each situation should help.
You usually need to make a conscious effort to reframe, however every now and then a situation might just reframe itself. That is reflected in a recent story I heard about a woman who had had her anti-depressant pills stolen. They had been grabbed out of her hand as she collected them from the pharmacy. She decided to leave a note in the window for the thief, should they return. It was a wonderful moment of unintentional irony. The woman was understandably upset when she wrote her note. She then read it back to herself and began to laugh. Without realizing it she had become her own anti-depressant. What she had written was:
To the person who stole my anti-depressants…I hope you’re happy now!
I thought that was just marvelous. She had accidentally reframed a bad situation by seeing the funny side of her angry response towards the thief.
So I encourage you to look at things differently, allow the improbable to become possible, change your perception of other people, keep an open mind.
Don’t be like the man who approached Pablo Picasso, whilst he was hanging around an exhibition of his paintings in Paris. The man asked Picasso why he didn’t paint people the way they look. “Well, how do they look?” asked Picasso. The man then took a photograph of his wife from his wallet. Picasso looked at the picture; then handing it back, said, “She’s very small isn’t she. And flat too.”
How to get started
The man in the Picasso story is judging Picasso for seeing things differently. If we can lose that sort of judgement and train ourselves to take a different view of things it could lead to a wealth of fresh ideas and new insights. When a problem is reframed as a challenge it moves from something which weighs heavily on us to something which can feel enlivening. This can lead to alternative solutions or compelling strategies.
With the happiness and new insights that shifting your perspective on things can lead to, I think we can conclude that reframing is good for our well-being. If you’re struggling to reframe a situation, here are some questions to get you started.
- Am I seeing a situation as all or nothing? How else could I look at this situation? Could I reframe my thoughts in less absolute terms?
- Problems rarely come from one single cause. Am I blaming something or someone too easily? If it is someone, what are the qualities I am failing to see in this person?
- How likely is it that the worst thing I think could happen will happen?
- Am I ignoring all the good things that have happened to me and only focusing on the negative?
And finally back to banana’s. As summer approaches mosquito’s will arrive. The oils in banana peel are a great remedy for itchy mosquito bites. So there you have it, now you can reframe your next annoying mosquito bite situation into a positive and healing experience!
Mental fitness with Schouten Global
Schouten Global runs various courses on reframing, reverse thinking, well-being, problem solving and Positive Intelligence (PQ).
Why not “go bananas” and learn more about these subjects and training possibilities. Please contact us at +31 (0) 418 68 85 58 (NL) or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.