Sunday, October 30, 2011

Make Cleaning Fun: Cognitive Reframing

Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique used frequently in cognitive behavioural therapy.  In essence when you reframe an activity (or emotion or conflict, etc.) you are attempting to look at it in a new light.  You are trying to consciously change your focus.
An excellent example of cognitive reframing comes from one of my former clients.  She wasn't cognitively reframing - she actually really enjoyed cleaning but her way of describing the activity fits this technique perfectly.

I had just started working for her.  She had a gorgeous house up in Kerrisdale; it was huge and full of paintings and porcelain.  We were doing a walk-about and she was showing me the kitchen.  All around the top of the kitchen cupboards (an area of dust-gathering and shoving for normal folk) were beautiful blue porcelain plates - a collection of her.  I inquired about them wondering if washing them would be my job.  She replied: "I give them a bath once a month."

If we examine her phrase and we think about the language she is using, it is clear that she values her collection and that taking care of them is something that she enjoys.  The phrase "bathing a plate" versus washing it or shoving it in the dishwasher evokes a very different relationship to that plate.

Your inspiration: Think about chores you hate to do.  Then brainstorm ways you can reframe them to change this relationship with them.  Perhaps taking out the trash turns into: Freshening up the house.  Maybe washing your bathtub turns into: Getting ready to relax into a clean bathtub.  There are endless possibilities for cognitively reframing cleaning and I would love to hear what you come up with.