Reframing real estate: tell a new story


View from my apartment deck

Reframing reality. I’ve known about reframing since hearing these immortal words on a Louise Hay tape 20 years ago:

A thought is only a thought. You can think a new thought.

Truly? Really? I considered that idea with amazement. I knew it was true, and what a relief!

I have used reframing often since then. It changes everything! Or rather, you can change your frame of mind and this (thinking a new thought) can seem to change your entire situation. Last year a cognitive behaviour therapist enabled me to reframe a stressful reality after two visits. And of course I can always see when others need it, oh yes! I might even presumptuously advise them to use it.

But still, at times, boom! It’s me who needs it—but I’m blind to the fact.

Responsibility for real estate: a story that needed to change

Over the last few weeks I slid into a situation that was causing me great stress. Here is the story I told myself.

  • I’m Chair of the body corporate responsible for the block of 6 flats in which I live.
  • Body corporates now have major issues with earthquake proofing and health and safety policies
  • Body corporate office bearers now have major liability. If you fail in your duties and a tradesperson gets injured, you may have to pay $60,000 or $600,000
  • We meet only (clue: note that word only) 42% of local earthquake-proofing requirements.
  • Insurance companies are likely to raise their own requirements to 70%, or to raise fees for buildings below that level.
  • Earthquake-proofing of an old building like ours, built in 1940 same as me, is hugely stressful for the occupants, costs millions and affects saleability.
  •  Arithmetic is the problem: we have only five owners to do a huge amount of work
  • As Chair I feel overburdened.
  • It might be better to sell my apartment and buy a small house in the same neighbourhood.

Now, all those statements are true. Nevertheless it was a bad story, one that locked me into negativity and anxiety.

A better story which is equally true

I got lucky talking to a brilliant real estate agent. He said to me, “You need to reframe.”

He didn’t need to say another word. I knew exactly what he meant and within seconds I switched to a different story. I mean it, within seconds!

  • I live in a wonderful apartment with 360 degree views, sun, space, and everything else I need.
  • It’s worth enough so that I could sell it and look for a small standalone place.
  • But this beloved city-neighbourhood has only 400 homes and many of them are unhealthy. I am very, very lucky!
  • Our body corporate members are willing and able. We can organise ourselves so that the work is equally shared.
  • Compared with most other body corporates our problems are tiny.

Almost instantly the chips fell into place and I became confident and serene. We will have problems, of course we will! So? Others should be half as lucky.

That was easy! Ever tried it?


19 thoughts on “Reframing real estate: tell a new story

  1. toutparmoi says:

    Well reframed! I should practice reframing too.

    1. Easy peasy. Lucky lucky you!

      1. toutparmoi says:

        Trouble is, my reframes don’t seem to last all that long.

      2. A few extra facts might be helpful.

      3. toutparmoi says:

        Or not.

      4. Pessimist!

  2. Val says:

    Reframing as such doesn’t work for me, nor does most cbt, my mind is very ‘oh yeah?’ about most things. What has worked in the past, though, is removing the ‘but’ from some negative statements, for instance when I’ve hit bad periods of depression I’ve kept a small notebook and each day written stuff that I’ve done (to remind myself that I can do things even when I think I can’t). So instead of writing ‘I cooked breakfast but it was hard work’ I’d write ‘I cooked breakfast’. Then I leave those statements for a week or so and read them back. Without all appearances of ‘but’ it all looks much more hopeful. I suppose you could call that a version of reframing. Maybe it is.

    1. I like the sound of your technique of removing the “but” half of a statement. Does look like reframing to me, although what do I know? I enjoy other techniques involving those powerful buts and ands. For example, “I cooked breakfast and it was hard work” changes the negative tone to a triumphant “Beat that!” And after a simple negative statement, “Cooking breakfast was hard work”, we could add a “but” — “Cooking breakfast was hard work but I did it and it was excellent!” (This is not me preaching, by the way, but me thinking through some of writing techniques I’ll be using in my nascent online courses.)

  3. Val says:

    By the way, I find it interesting – don’t you? – how some of us find these techniques really good, really helpful, and others of us, don’t. I’m cheered by the fact that we’re all individuals and all do what we can to the best of our own abilities. And I’m glad you found something that works well for you, truly.

    1. I do. I look at people in wonder, both older and younger, and I think, “Wow! Look at you!” meaning “You are so different from everyone else, unique, created partly by circumstances and partly by yourself.” If you see what I mean? For example my default setting is of optimism and happiness, so don’t believe a word I say.

  4. Aunt Beulah says:

    No, Rachel, i’ve never tried reframing because I’ve never heard of it. But now I know something about it and, thanks to your clear two-stories example, I think I can try it. I’m going to start with the way I’m feeling these days about my beloved yard and flower gardens. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  5. Well, I am happy to know you will try it. I’m guessing you are well placed to make it work. And yes, please do keep me posted. That yard and those plants need your joy, don’t they? Very likely we will need techniques like reframing more as we grow older, I guess.

  6. M. L. Kappa says:

    Very interesting post, Rachel. Must try using this technique…

  7. This reminds me of a technique I read about many years ago. The example given was of a woman who was recently divorced and was fretting because she now *had* to make all decisions by herself now. But when her therapist helped to reframe her thoughts, she then was able to enjoy the idea that now she “got” to make decisions by herself now. It made a big impression on me and it’s helped me cope with many a situation.

    I’m a big fan of cognitive therapy. Whenever my husband or I uses the words “always” or “never” we either catch ourselves or gently remind each other to examine the actuality of something that always or never happens. 🙂

    Thanks for liking my comment on Val’s blog. I’m happy that her blog led me to yours.

    1. It’s wonderful how attending to a single word can change the quality of our understanding and communication! I remember that being “allowed” (? odd word) to do painting and plastering and papering was one of the surprise benefits of my own divorce. Nobody forbade me to decorate when married, but my husband had a building firm. And yep, “always” and “never” are dangerous words, I agree. On the bird front, please visit nzbirdsonline dot org dot nz. That bird whose name you did not know: dotterel? godwit? My son-in-law Colin Miskelly was heavily involved in setting up this marvellous digital encyclopaedia.

  8. Robyn Haynes says:

    Reframing is a useful strategy but often gets waylaid by that bandit ‘looping’. Well, in my case anyway.The same old story goes around and around in my poor tired head. I want to reinstate ‘reframing’. Any ideas?

    1. That looping is familiar and so destructive. Don’t you hate it when that happens? I do have ideas. In fact I’ve incorporated some of them into a course I am creating — but it’s not ready yet! Meantime others have given their tricks (some involve dealing with “but” statements in various ways) so that’s worth a look. I will blog about this sometime! An answer here would soon get out of control — sorry!

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        I’ll look forward to the post. I’ve been given strategies. Some are effective, like music or mindful breathing or other kinds of detachment. They work in degrees so I guess I’m not too badly off. Thanks for listening!

      2. That’s good!

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