Today’s Disaster Can Be Tomorrow’s Funny Story: 4 Steps to Self-Care Using the Reframing Technique by Noreen Braman
I often tell a story about how writers for Everybody Loves Raymond would sit around a table and ask each other, “What happened at your house last weekend?” The answers to these questions became some of the plots for the show, and many involved situations that, for the characters, were not so funny. However, shifting the audience’s perspective to see the ridiculous, absurd or incongruous side of the “disaster” created lots of audience laughter.
Mental health professionals call this “reframing.” I like to call it “today’s disaster can be tomorrow’s funny story.” The two times my daughter got her head stuck in railings. Even funnier because the same thing happened to me, around the same age, on the Staten Island Ferry. Home plumbing calamities that filled the house with suds, into which toddlers disappeared. An overly exaggerated, slow-motion fall that resulted in no serious injury, but years of offspring retelling the story, complete with choreography. In fact, in the retelling of these tales, they seem to get even funnier. Changing your perspective is an important tool in managing stress, thinking clearly and moving forward in a challenging situation.
What funny story are you fond of repeating for your family? What incident at your house last weekend can be reframed for a smile? The more times you can do this, the better you will be in handling those things that are not so funny. Here are four steps to a funny story:
- Can you shift your perspective to find something funny or absurd?
- Can you visualize, in retrospect, that everything was (mostly) OK in the end?
- Can you retell this story without hurting someone’s feelings?
- Remember, that in some situations, laughter is not appropriate, but that the return of laughter is a sign you are healing.
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