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Reframing Situations During Tough Times

Hi friends,

I recently asked my Instagram followers which of these 3 topics to write about. Here’s how the votes turned out:

As you can see, people were most curious about how to reframe situations and see them differently.  And I get it.  Our current times feel fast, chaotic, heartbreaking, confusing and dissonant.  Things can feel like they’re falling apart.  

So yes.  Let’s talk about what it means to reframe situations… especially in times like these.

In my experience…

Two weeks ago, I was at a monastic retreat at Plum Village France living like a monk and sitting with my thoughts.  I am not a Buddhist.  But I appreciate Zen teachings and have been practicing mindfulness for over a decade.  (Plus I’m a big fan of Thich Nhat Hahn.)  

After a busy stretch and a lot of changes happening around me, I felt the need for a pause.  I needed a reframe for the way I was interpreting situations (past and hypothetical future).  

In my experience, reframing a situation is really about orienting towards it from a different standing place. In order to give myself the space to do this, I always find myself back in nature.

When I’m connecting with nature, I find that my inner state changes.  As I notice the pace and flow of the natural world, I realize how much the manic pace of the modern world robs me of being present in the Now.  “Nature does not hurry, and yet everything gets done.” (Lao Tzu).

While at this retreat, I had the pleasure of immersing myself in a community full of changemakers and people that I would otherwise never cross paths with.  This time around, I had a chance to speak with environmental activists, climate change activists, NGO leaders, doctors, therapists, healers, and retired people from all walks of life.  (I’m often one of the very few corporates at these things.). As I listened to people’s stories and views of the world, I realized yet again the power of diverse perspectives and sharing with each other.  

I also experienced profound reframes during meditating or mindful walking.  As I got more attuned to my intuition and inner wisdom, I was able to see more because more of me came online; my heart and body signals came much more to the forefront as my mind quieted down.

Three concepts that remain with me:

InterBeing — No life is separate from any other.  We are all interconnected.  When one of us hurts, we all feel it in some way.  Taking care of ourselves, each other and other life forms (plants, animals, etc) is imperative.  We are all in this together.

Impermanence — Nothing is permanent.  There is a comfort in accepting that and understanding that it is a reality of life.  Suffering happens from the non-acceptance, not from the fact itself.

Happiness —  Happiness and Suffering are two sides of the same coin.  Without suffering, we can’t experience and understand happiness.  Without happiness, we cannot experience and understand suffering.  An important skill is learning how to embrace our suffering and the suffering of the world with as much tenderness as we can.  

I experienced profound reframes through the lens of InterBeing (we’re all in this together), Impermanence (this too shall pass), and Happiness (reminder to not get into the trap of dualistic thinking of ‘good’ vs ‘bad’).  

Once I moved through that process, another inquiry emerged for me:  How do I help reduce suffering in the world?  

This is an exploration of a lifetime, of course.  What I do know is that I (like you) can have a profound impact exactly where I am today, not later when the conditions are “perfect”.Mentorship and coaching, for instance, have allowed me to connect with impact-driven leaders dedicated to shaping new visions and solutions for a better world (my past clients have worked on sustainability, climate change, affordable childcare, inclusion, and mindfulness).  It’s really about doing what we can to create positive solutions.  

In summary, here are examples of ways to enhance your ability to reframe situations:

  1. Grounding: Getting centered, tending to your nervous system, and grounding yourself to stay resourced.
  2. Self-observation: Noticing your thought patterns and interpretations.  Getting curious about their origins and their underlying beliefs.
  3. Curiosity: Asking yourself what alternative interpretations could exist that are more generous, compassionate and expansive.  
  4. Possibilities: Identifying what kinds of possibilities and learnings open up from the situation that you’re in.
  5. Narratives: Choosing the kind of narrative(s) you want to believe and share about the situation.
  6. Conversations: Listening and sharing with others to expand each others’ perspectives and realizing that help is often available to us when we ask.

 What are some practices you can easily introduce into your days and weeks?    

How does the reframing help you ultimately bring forward new possibilities into the world?  

🙏🏼 I’d love to hear from you!  What are you taking away from this, and what kind of reframes are you experiencing?  Please reply to this email and let me know.

🪷 If you know anyone who would benefit from this email, please forward it along.  There is a link to Subscribe at the bottom of the email for those who receive it from a friend.

In this with you,


I partner with mid-senior leaders and changemakers who are invested in solutions for positive change.  I offer custom leadership development programs, tools and practices, and deeper transformations to help them navigate their career with more purpose, effectiveness, and confidence.  Book a call to connect.

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