Reframing vs Change


Most of us have things we would like to change, something we are working to change, plan to change tomorrow, or when we move to a new town or when the stars are right and so on. Sometimes we believe that we have changed a lot, but our world has the audacity to not acknowledge this, even if we might be looking at it differently. Sometimes we are doing the same thing we have always done (or this is what we believe), but weird things happen. People seem to try to push us in strange directions for obscure reasons, our friends back away, and the job we loved suddenly begins to be a burden. It feels like a small-scale conspiracy going on.

It is not always easy to see when actual change has happened. The response from the world is not what one might expect, even if the change actually is for the better in the long run. Change often disrupts the current balance and threatens what is known as “normal” – and most people dislike that.

In this context I also want to write about Change with a capital C: a permanent difference in you that has made you into something more than you were before the Change happened. Initiation is about causing such Change, often through directed work towards a certain goal.

If you have changed, there will be concrete and observable responding changes in the world around you, as your surroundings will react to real change in you. As above, so below. You will no longer fit in your old place in your world or the one around you. This might take some time to manifest, but it will happen.

If there is no real, observable change, the “results” you think you see are imaginary. We might think we are different because we have experienced something that felt profound, but we are quite resilient to real changes in our being. Your perceived change is maybe just make-believe, “I can’t still be the same person!”, than anything else. Oh yes, you can.  If nobody else notices or the world responds, you are still the same.

Reframing is often confused with chagne. You simply decide to give something a new wrapper, describe it from a different angle. But in itself this is not Change. It might be helpful and might make your life a bit easier (many forms of therapy deal with reframing your inner talk), but unless it leads to you behaving differently and causing change also in the world outside you, it is not Change. It is one of many steps that might lead to change without being Change itself.

Change often looks like the world being different while you are the same, the complete opposite of reframing. We don’t see ourselves very well, after all.

Magic is often aiming to create Change, and then it can be even harder to not see “results” due to wishful thinking or similar biases we are so apt to fall for. But the same applies: any real result should be concrete, observable, and measurable. Your way of acting in the world should be different in a way that creates Change in the world you live in, and even if you can’t see yourself acting differently, the Change will be something you can easily observe.

What causes Change varies from person to person, but in general there is a lot of inertia around us and so whatever the measures that lead to Change, they often have to be quite drastic. This is why reframing tends to go unnoticed by those around us. Even if life is a bit easier for us because of the new way of interpreting things, others generally can’t tell if there’s a difference or not.

Change is not a change in aesthetics, either. Dyeing your hair might seem drastic but most will stop noticing it as soon as it is not new anymore. You still look like the same person with different hair color. Producing Change with changes in appearance and adopting a different style usually requires changing your social context to support and fit that style – and vice versa, wanting to change your social peer group requires that you dress the part. The difficulty related to the desired change depends on how much of your social life remains connected to your old appearance. If you change the way you dress and find that you are no longer accepted by your friends, you are forced to recreate your social context, and you have created Change and also learned something about who your real friends are.

Let’s say you take up art. In itself, this is not Change. If you paint something that causes enough of an uproar to make you lose your job, gets your works into an exhibition, or even makes someone willing to dish out cash for your art, you have created Change and with it also room for something new. The first step of Change is often not very pleasant, since we tend to like what is known to us, and Change often requires breaking down the existing structures. Studying the rune hagalaz and its dynamics may be useful here.

In these examples you can see that reframing does not change the actual situation, only how you interpret or see it. You might choose to see your former friends as superficial jerks and not be quite so sorry about losing them, or see getting fired as a new opportunity to find a more meaningful means to support yourself, but this is dealing with the result of Change and not Change in itself. You could have adopted these views beforehand (“I have useless friends; if I lose my job it will be an opportunity”) but unless you acted on the views to the degree of ditching your friends or quitting your job, your changed views do not mean that Change has happened.

Real Change tends to feel scary and unpleasant. We instinctively want to stay with what we know, even if we dislike what is known and safe to us. Reframing might enable us, or relieve us of responsibility or provide excuses. To use reframing and call it Change might actually just help us be complacent about our situation when we shouldn’t, and this is why knowing the difference is important.

To us the job example: If I hate my job I can find something I like about it to make sticking with it more bearable. But unless I actively look for a new job, there will be no Change. Or when it comes to fear: If I am afraid of something I can reframe it into not being so scary, but unless I want to reframe every fear I have and will have, it would be better to find and Change the way you react to fear, to induce a change in behaviour to provide a real, lasting result. Reframing is at best an aid, a crutch, and at its worst mere delusion, a lie we tell ourselves that keeps us in our current situation by giving us a more tolerable outlook – like taking aspirin for your cancer.






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