Reframing or Spinning

What’s the difference between reframing and spinning?

We all know that person, right? The master spinner, the who can take something that happened and spin it so that they look like the hero of the story? Or change up the story so that it somehow ended up exactly as they planned? Or they rewrite the narrative of what happened so completely that we don’t even recognize it – even though we were there? And while we admire them for their ability to do just that, it still feels a little creepy, a little dishonest, maybe even sleazy. And we wonder if they actually believe their spin.

Then there’s reframing, which is choosing to take a different perspective in order to see things from a different angle to find new insights or understanding. I ask my clients to reframe things all the time. Usually, my clients have one of two default settings. They are either the victim or a very flawed hero, and reframing can be really helpful. There are other default settings, of course, but I don’t tend to attract them as clients.

And honestly, I don’t get too many true victims. But sometimes my clients have the occasional situation where they can’t see their way out. They are stuck and feel powerless or trapped. When they reframe the story to take some responsibility, they get their power back. They can see where they have options, choices to make and actions to take to move forward.

It’s more common that my clients play the role of the flawed hero in their own narrative. They think that they are responsible for most everything that goes wrong. They compare themselves to others and come out on the losing side. They feel all kinds of negative and limiting emotions: inferiority, under-qualified, shame, and guilt to name just a few. When we reframe the narrative, we work to reset the default so that they aren’t as harsh and judgmental about themselves. We change to a more compassionate, balanced and fair perspective.

So how do you tell the difference between spinning and reframing? I have a couple of things I like to keep in mind.

First, my initial inclination is that if you’re worrying about the difference, you’re not a spinner.

Second, spinning almost always comes across as completely self-serving. Reframing can be beneficial, but it isn’t solely self-serving, because it’s about finding a balanced perspective.

Finally, spinning doesn’t always seem to be focused on the truth, while the purpose for reframing is to find a more honest, unbiased perspective to shape our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

I love the name “reframing” because it’s about artistry. Finding a new frame can completely transform a stale, old thing into a stunning new image. Just pick the right color (and the color thinking questions) and you can really bring out the best in an image!

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!



I have room for a couple of one-on-one clients right now. Send me an email if you’d like to talk:

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