Frame Games

Frame Games – Are Your Games Toxic?

In a recent Wednesday Night NLP MeetUp, I introduced ‘framing’ and ‘Frame Games.”  With regard to ‘framing,’ I say that, “all meaning is the result of, or is dependent upon, the frame inside which it occurs or otherwise is understood.”  I might also say as a corollary, “He who controls the frame, controls the interaction.”

Consider this example.  While waiting for a bus on a busy corner in the city, you hear a squeaky shoe.  It is interesting to notice, but not a big concern.  However, in the frame of, you are home alone at home in an otherwise quiet suburb and you hear a squeaky shoe just outside your bedroom window, you are likely to have very different response.  You ascrive different meaning to the sound.  You are going to listen differently.  Here’s another example; if a spouse is 30 minutes late coming home from work, you might wonder where the person is and what he/she is doing.  At 1 hour you might be a bit irritated that your partner did not call to communicate he or she would be late.  At 3 or 4 hours the irritation may turn to concern for whether he or she is OK.  You might be thinking something bad could have happened.  Your interpretation of events and therefor the emotional reaction you have to the content of the story you make up is dependent the context or frame you create.

In his book, Games Business Experts Play, L Michael Hall introduces a tool he calls Frame Games.  Just the name, ‘frame games’ itself frames or actually ‘reframes’ common experience.  Some games are positive and some games have decidedly negative affects.  In the frame of Pop Psychology of the 1960’s and 1970 framed ‘playing games’ as an undesireable behavior, but even that was a reframe.  As children, people tend to enjoy and learn from playing games.  Adults play all kinds of game including sports, and gambling.  If it’s a game, it must be fun. Some games hone our senses and muscle tone and mental accuity.  Games like ‘chess’ can expand our analytical skills and ability to think strategically.  There even websites now that promote improvement in memory and general cognitive abilities.

L Michael Hall points out that the kinds of games we all play with each other can be fun and positive in nature or they can be ‘toxic.’  If you can begin to think of difficult relationships as games you are involved in, you can take unresourceful events in a more positive way and you’ll be able to get some freedom in how you respond the toxic behaviors that are often acted out.

If you think of almost any kind of problem communication that goes on in your life, it is possible to frame it as a ‘game’ you and the other people are playing with each other.  You can also begin to see how you are complicit in creating the game.  Just ask yourself, “Would the game play if I were not involved?”  When we start looking at our games, although we generally see ourselves as victims of the other people playing the game, it is possible to understand that you have to behave or respond in some particular way for the toxic game to go forward.

From the outset, framing your issue as a ‘game’ is useful.  It more likely feels better, lighter, more fun when you can think of it as a game. You can also begin to take responsibility for your actions in perpetuating the game and that means you can change it.  The problem with toxic games is that is that we tend to be unconscious of how we keep creating the conditions for the game to play.  I use a worksheet that asks, “How do you know you are in the game?” and “What are the hooks that get you and others into your game?”  “Does your game go fast or slow, more detailed or more big picture, more procedurally or more options-oriented?” It asks, “What are things you just don’t do (taboos) while the game is on?” When you have explored how the game is played, it asks “How do you rate the toxicity of the game on a scale of 0-10?” At some oint, it asks what are the trigger  or leverage points in changing how the game plays?”  Now you begin to have some choice about how your game will continue, change, or end and what game you’d rather play, now that you have some choice.

Just this idea as it has been outlined above may help some people make changes in their games.  Take some of the seriousness out of the equation and you get some freedom, and after all, ‘How many people does it take to change a dance step.  One.  Anyone in your game can change the step and the dance will transform.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?   If this article is not enough to get your game to change, give Bill a call, 602 321-7192.  In and NLP Coaching session with Bill, you can explore your toxic games and choose new behaviors.  Get a new and empowering game to play that creates for and others, more of what you want in life.  Frame Games are a powerful tool in changing old behaviors.  You will begin to notice that when your game changes, other people seem to show up differently.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

For NLP Coaching sessions or to register for an upcoming workshop, CALL: 602 321-7192.