A grandmother was focusing on cleanliness to such an extent that the family did not feel welcome in her house. One day she bought a new rug, and it was a disaster if someone with dirty shoes or feet left a mark on the rug. The family felt sorry for her, and the children arranged for her to get help. She agreed to see a therapist. She was asked how she felt when the rug was completely clean and tidy. She answered she felt very happy. She was then asked why it was clean. She replied that it was because nobody walked on it. The next question was, “Why is nobody walking on it?” She answered the reason was that nobody came to her house. The therapist continued and explained that when nobody came to visit her she might feel very lonely, and if marks were left on the rug it would mean that people cared about her and wanted to be together with her. – The conversation with the therapist made her change her behaviour. She was now relaxed when people came to her house, and visitors enjoyed spending time with her. The rug was the same, but she had changed her meaning about marks being left there. She saw it in a new light.
In daily life we experience events that we cannot control. If it is raining, it means that the farmers are very happy if they need rain. On the day you want to hang out your washing, rain is not making you very happy. If interest rate is high, it is bad for borrowers and great for saving accounts. When something is happening to us that we cannot change, we can change the way we look at it. For example, we had a fantastic neighbour some years ago. We got along very well. However, every time on a Saturday when we wanted to go out and enjoy a cup of coffee on the veranda, he would start up using his noisy garden equipment. He is of course allowed to do so, consequently we could not stop it, but we could change the way we felt about it. How?
The solution was given by a friend who said, “What will happen if you have a neighbour who is very untidy and pour out garbage onto the street and weed is overgrowing the whole front part of the property?” – “That would cause our property to fall in value!” – From then on, when we are sitting with coffee and tea and the loud garden equipment starts, we hear it as music. We smile and say to each other that our property is going up in value!
A woman was annoyed about feeling irritated when her husband moved things around at the dinner table. A friend helped her by asking what would have to happen for these things not to be moved? She thought about it, then a bit shocked realised that it would mean that her husband would not be there! She is now enjoying things being moved around, – she has started doing it herself!
When we see a problem in a new light we can change the meaning. The meaning of whatever we experience in life depends on the frame we put around it. When we look at a situation from different angles, we can change the way we respond.
We can eliminate negative feelings about almost everything. One method is to see oneself in a movie. See the event that you are unhappy about on the screen, play it fast-forward and put circus music on it. You have changed the framing around the event and in doing so you have changed the negative feelings. You are seeing it in a new light. You might even have a good, healthy laughter.