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Stuff series: Part 3

Escaping the Frame Changes the View

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

*attribution below

Changing the context

Framing (adding perspective)
Reframing (changing perspective)

Reframing is  a well-worn tool in a number of helping professions.  The fields that seem to advocate it most are Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP], therapy, and Coaching (especially ADD Coaching).

Reframing is on the Optimal Functioning Institute™ list as one of the Ten Basic Coaching Skills used Most Often with ADDers.  

Including Reframing on this particular list underscores the importance of the two most important ADD Coaching skills, normalizing (ADD affect) and endorsing (client actions, perspectives and talents).

But what IS Reframing?

In the coaching field, reframing is one of the Languaging skills that refers to a particular manner of speaking that allows an individual to escape black and white thinking boundaries so that a different conclusion can be drawn from the same set of facts.

That, in turn, changes the way the situation “seems,” in a manner similar to the way that reframing a picture impacts the look of the picture itself.

In other words, changing the context puts a statement or point of view into a different frame of reference; a “seeding” skill that fosters a shift, (paradigm shift, in some fields).

Reframing seems, to some, merely a trick of language  

While not entirely untrue, that “semantic argument” point of view sells the technique short.

Reframing is an important concept for anyone who has been struggling with change, particularly those of us who are emotionally reactive to the fact that we are drowning in stuff — especially those of us who are emotionally attached to our stuff.

Calm down, this is NOT a sneaky way to convince you to part with stuff you want to keep.

Stay with me here, so that what comes later will make sense.
(More to the point, stay with me so that what comes later will WORK –

because it will be something that will make sense for you to try)


A more effective – more useful – way of thinking about reframing that is closer to the truth is to think about it as a linguistic “pattern interrupt.”  It exerts an emotionally stabilizing effect — so that a client (or reader) is able to access his or her very fine brain, unclouded by person-specific judgment stemming from prior emotional linking.

NEUROLOGICALLY, reframing unhooks the amygdala from our neurons-that-wire together-fire-together programming, allowing us to respond rather than react.

*Attribution below

The amygdala is spoken about as a single entity, but is actually comprised of two almond-shaped, fingernail-sized structures deep within the brain. The amygdala  is a brain center that plays an important role in the development of emotional memories.

It is one of the two main emotion-processing regions of the brain: the part of the brain believed to “responsible for” those knee-jerk emotional decisions that determine behavior.

“It’s principal task,” according to  Robert Sylwester in his book A Celebration of Neurons, “is to filter and interpret sophisticated incoming sensory information in the context of our survival and emotional needs, and then to help initiate appropriate responses.”  

Hmmmmm . . . “appropriate” according to what scale?

Making Reframing Work for what WE want life to be like

Reframing spotlights the shift that paves the way for change by bringing relevant distinctions to conscious awareness in real time – and is a vital part of ADD coaching.

Reframing is a technique that gives us the emotional space to “rethink”
some of the black-and-white decisions we’ve made about:

  • Ourselves: reframing helps us discover that we are not, for example, “Lazy, Stupid or Crazy” (or uncoachable!)merely stuck, unsure how to proceed, or Boggled.
  • Others: reframing helps us distinguish between, for example, “a thoughtless remark” and “a rude person
  • Concepts: a quick line noting the difference between, for example, “a less than perfect outcome” and “a failure”

The new understanding of ourselves and our behaviors (that we can experience as a result of reframing) offers a rapid way to transition to a more effective place, able to “get back on the horse” and get back into action – without the emotional exploration that often serves as reinforcement for the negative feelings themselves.

Pushing through Mood to ACTION

Making the shift from expectations of failure to expectations of success is a key component of positive change.  Who bothers to spend the time and energy to change anything if they don’t expect it to work?

How many times have you looked at a mess of STUFF that clearly needed handling and given up in frustration?

  • Maybe you began the task of “decluttering” and threw in the towel after an action or two didn’t have the intended effect.
  • Maybe you threw in the towel before taking action AT ALL!

Can you remember the content of your thoughts at that moment – distinct from whatever you were feeling about those thoughts?  I’ll bet you a month’s free coaching that you were caught in the undertow of black and white thinking.

Most ADDers have some degree of struggle with a particular type of cognitive polarization that I refer to as black-and-white thinking: perfect or worthless, always or never, great or lousy, all-in or all-out!  It is such a significant problem for many ADDers that I believe it is a primary source of misdiagnosis.  Why?

Black and white thinking is a key generator of  ADD Mood Swings. Mood Swings are frequently mis-identified as evidence of a type of Bi-Polar disorder — unless the diagnostician is ADD-literate to a degree that a great many are not.

Misdiagnosis aside, who wants to be at the effect of mood swings?

They’re tough to push through, and they cause problems we wouldn’t have to deal with if we had calm, clear access to our thinking apparatus.

  • UNTIL we get a handle on black and white thinking, we swing wildly from hope to frustration to hopelessness.
  • Unhooking emotionally-wired connections lessens the impact of frustration.
  • Reframing is the key to unhooking!

As we work our way through the remainder of the STUFF series together, clearly distinguishing assisting from what others might consider “enabling,” let’s also consider those ineffective “tough love” approaches as products of judgment coming from lack of information and understanding.

Next, make sure you take time to note your thought in the moment — especially when you want to run away screaming.  

Even if I don’t direct you toward a reframe, any time you hit a brick wall, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How am I thinking about this that’s making it harder for me to do?
  • Can I find “a place of gray” from which to counter any black and white thinking?
  • Is there another way to look at things – a way to reframe – that changes my mood or my willingness to attempt to solve the problem?
Keep checking back — there’s much more to come in this series.

*Attribution Notes:  1-First graphic is Escaping Criticism
By Pere Borrell del Caso (Collection Banco de España, Madrid) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons;

2-The rendering of the Amygdala is Courtesy of Wiki’s Washington irving [sic], who adds,
“The figure shows the underside (ventral view) of a semi-transparent human brain, with the front of the brain at the top.
The red blobs show the approximate location of the en:amygdala in the en:temporal lobes of the human brain.
Note: the amygdala is covered by the ventral temporal cortex (i.e., it is inside the transparent brain).”

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Stuff and Nonsense™ Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above)

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

17 Responses to Reframing

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  10. Ardath Mulik says:

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was seeking this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Juracy says:

    I still have my comment on moderation. Why?


    • I’m WordPress Challenged – that’s why! GRRRR!

      Something is set wrong – leaving a trail of “comments” that aren’t in my moderation queue when folks click site-links (a track-back or a ping thing). I can’t get it to stop no matter HOW the originating link is written “back stage.” So I can’t believe the notifications mean anybody has actually left a comment I need to approve, and my ADD eyes are overwhelmed by the page clutter, so I sometimes miss the real comments until I stop everything and delete the “spam.” Sorry – nothing personal!

      The weird thing is that it all appears to come from ME – even when I haven’t been on the page since I posted it. Any ideas how to shut THAT off and leave comments ON?


  12. Juracy says:

    I think every Coach should learn NLP. I was fortunate enough to have
    Dr. John Grinder as my teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! HELLO? Listening and Languaging? Coaching? Reframing? Shifting? Neuro-lingustics training? DUH!

      We’d probably have seen it incorporated long ago except that our certifying body, in their infinite wisdom, made the ruling that it doesn’t consider NLP training “coach specific” enough to count– even for recertification hours, so it isn’t likely to happen unless somebody starts a movement and gets coaches to sign and circulate a pertition en masse.

      But probably not even then, which is embarrassingly unfortunate. I’ve been getting pie in the face about ADD & ADD coaching since the dawn of the day, and things have gotten worse for our coaches re: certification etc., NOT better!

      DELIVER ME FROM LINEAR THINKERS! I don’t understand them any more than they understand ADD! (But then, NLP isn’t the most enlightened where ADD is concerned either, so whacha’ gonna do?! )

      I had high hoped for IAAC certification standards, but my colleagues on the Founding Board chose to toady to the ICF line and out-voted me — don’t get me started!!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  13. Aimee says:

    awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks.

    My blog:
    dsl anbieter vergleich

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Aimee – for the kind words, & for commenting. GOOD to have feedback that posts are useful.

      I will check out your site this week, but the only language I speak/read WELL is English (more’s the pity), so if you are in German, as it seems, I’m sunk!

      RE: linking here: Since my readers all struggle with focus, I do not approve links to ads, marketing etc. unless DIRECTLY relevant (and ADD friendly!), but any time you post something that expands on any of the many subjects I blog about, feel free to let my readers know in the comments section of a relevant post here (with a link and a couple of sentences about what the post covers)

      I’m am still struggling with all this social networking stuff – not the concept, but putting it in place – squeezing in time to implement as well as figuring out the tech! I don’t tweet yet (on my list!). I DO have a LinkedIn profile, etc., have a presence on, and am in the process of building an Optimal Functioning Institute facebook page for my ADD stuff. But I seem to run out of day before I run out of technical snafus – over and over and over!

      I DO have FB personal page which I don’t get to very often, but most of my “friends” on that page are former sho-biz buddies, family, college friends, etc., who have little use for ADD info and would hang me by my thumbs if I started to “spam” their newsfeeds with it. I’d be happy to friend you over there, but don’t know enough to tell you how to find me other than to search for me by name.



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