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  • Writer's pictureRyan Wilson

How Reframing Can Change Your Life

Did you know that how you think changes your body chemistry? And that this in turn actually changes how we move through difficult times.

We all know that our biological makeup (genes) influence behaviour (so we all have certain genetic pre-dispositiosn we get from our parents), and people sometimes get stuck here, saying their low mood or anxiety is genetic or a chemical imbalance, but many people do not know that behaviour influences gene expression also!

So although it is true, we do get some pre-dispositions from family, and we cannot change that, we CAN CHANGE what we do to mitigate how much those genes get activated and expressed in our lives. 

This is why when we consciously choose to reframe our past or present difficulties by choosing to focus on what we are learning from them, on the meaning we attribute to them or simply adopting an “attitude of gratitude”, it actually changes our experience and our physiology (how our body works, what chemicals are released etc). The same is true when we just  decide to expect a positive outcome, whether or not that is realistic based on our past experiences, and whether it is rational or not doesn’t matter, merely expecting that things will work out changes our body chemistry!

We have previously touched on this in the Amy Cuddy TED talk, where we saw that  changing our body posture (to Power Posing) for 2 min changes how much the hormones that are responsible for confidence, power and healthy coping are released, which in turn changes our behaviour and how we are perceived by others.

This is also true when it comes to the bigger

issue of survival! People with cancer, those who have had a heart attack or a stroke, all have a SIGNIFICANTLY higher chance of 1-year survival when they are not depressed (the stats range fro 30-60% higher!). Those who frame these types of events as a life event they will learn from, or that has reminded them of what is important in life, for which they are grateful, and who expect a positive outcome, actually are more likely to live.

A more personal example is that last year I had knee surgery, and before I was put under, the doctor explained to me that they now have many  studies that show that people who expect a positive outcome have less complications during and after surgery– significantly more so than can be explained by chance alone.

This is also used when people are going through rehab after loosing use of a limb. They actually get the patients to imagine (through visualization) seeing themselves actually using their limb again, even before they are well enough to start rehab, and when they do, their rehab is consistently quicker and more successful.

The worst outcomes are when we tell the stories of our life from a victim position, as if life is just happening to us and we are helpless.

The best outcomes are when we focus on gratitude, meaning/ lessons learned and benefits that  from the experience, and when we expect a positive outcome.

So in short, although we can’t change the past, we can CHOOSE how we will retell the story to ourselves and others and this can change our life, right down to our survival!

We have previously talked about the Danger of a single story and the power the stories we tell ourselves and others in our lives- are you ready to change your story? Are you ready to re-write history if it means you get to  have a better future?

As always, we would love to hear from you here, by email, or on twitter: @kryanwilson or @DrAdrianaWilson.

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