I remember once ("in my younger days" :-) ) I was hitch-hiking from London to Munich and I had gotten as far as about Belgium or so (no idea really), and it was 3am in the morning, and the ride I had been travelling with was leaving the direction I wanted to go and so I was dropped off at the side of a motorway junction in the middle of nowhere.
It was raining and cold, and I stood trying to thumb my next lift for half an hour while meantime becoming increasingly more desperate as the sparse but nevertheless steady stream of middle of the night traffic, trucks and cars, passed me by with what I presumed was either suspicion or indifference. I had a deadline that I was trying to get to Munich by 9am the next morning to where I was supposed to be meeting up with some friends.
In my desperation it occurred to me to invent a different game, and so I changed the game I was playing from "Try to get a ride" to a new game that I called "Thumb 10 trucks". I consciously stopped trying to get a ride and instead I simply changed the game to give the best thumbs up I could imagine to the next 10 trucks. (Trucks are pretty good bets when you're hitching.)
Because you see I had become miserable loosing at the game I was playing, so I had changed the game to something I could win at. The game was no longer to try to get a ride. Instead the game was thumbing trucks... I couldn't help but win at that! All I had to do was give them my best thumb, and that was a point to me!
Although possibly it is entirely coincidental, shortly after that a curious thing happened. I had just thumbed my 4th or 5th truck when an eastern european ganster (I found out later) pulled up in spanking new Mercedes sports car and offered me a ride. I hadn't even tried to thumb him. He must have just seen me thumbing the previous truck, or else he just saw me there at the side of the junction and it was obvious what I wanted. He drove at terrifying speeds and I thought I was going to die, but it was in any case good to be out of the rain.
Why am I telling you this story?
The point is that changing the game I was playing changed my frame of reference, and changing my frame of reference led to an alteration in how I was behaving at the side of the road.
Of course I have no idea whether it was the alteration in my demeanour that led to my being picked up... perhaps that was just luck, but one thing that I can tell you for certain is that although I was still standing there at 3 o'clock in the morning, in the rain, by myself, in the middle of nowhere, feeling scared both of the police (hitching is not encouraged in much of Europe, or wasn't back then - this was years ago!) and the potential of being picked up by someone up to no good... although the sky was still raining in my face, the rain in my mind had stopped.
I was no longer playing a losing hand. I had started playing a game that knew I could win at. Every time I thumbed a truck, and the truck went on past, I was one point out of ten closer to my target of thumbing 10 trucks. I new I was going to be able to do it! Everything was going according to plan!
Now I know that might sound like I was living in cloud cuckoo land. In terms of "physical reality", thumbing ten trucks and watching them go by wasn't getting me to Munich any faster than standing by the side of the road feeling hopeless was getting me there. And whilst in one sense that is absolutely true, in another way it is completely plausible in my mind that the sight of a hitcher having more of the manner of entertainment about him might have helped encourage someone who was considering whether they should help me to actually do so (even if it had not been my eastern European saviour).
And in addition, like I said above, even if I wasn't finding my ride any faster, I was having a lot better time in terms of how I was feeling while I was waiting for someone kind to pass by. I had changed the game, and so I had changed the frame of reference: changed the frame of reference inside of which I was holding the whole set of circumstances which I was dealing with.
In a similar vein, when I was young and living in London, and I used to go out to night clubs, looking as it were for "new friends", me and my flatmate pal (I won't name and shame him) were probably as equally hopeless as each other in terms of our charm and sophistication.
He was (is) better looking than me, and slightly more charming too, but he also really didn't have much of a clue at that stage in his life how to "pull". Almost invariably the two of us would come home together the same way that we set off out for the evening... without any female company. I can't say it didn't feel kind of depressing.
So we used to make up a whole series of games we would play that in my case got me over my shyness, and in his case got him over his incompetence. We had games like the number of girls who gave us their phone number (usually a low score with me), the length of time that either of us could keep a girl in conversation, the number of times either of us made a girl laugh, etcetera etcetera. We had quite a lot of fun just coming up with the games, let alone playing them. I know what you're thinking... all very sad. Well yes it was. But the games did in fact make us feel less sad. They were fun to play, and when you're hopeless at something like that, and it seems really important that you should not be hopeless at it (which at the time it did seem), having some fun around it really does help. To this day I am still as much of a clutz as I ever was, however he has gone on to become one of the master's of the art.
In any case I am not claiming that changing the game and hence changing the frame is the answer to life, the universe and everything. I am not saying do that and all your problems will be solved. I am simply saying that changing the game and hence changing the frame provides an access to behaving and producing results (and also in the meantime an access to controlling how you are feeling) that is a useful tool in the tool bag of anyone who ever finds themselves in a situation where the "default game" (the game that you find yourself playing if you don't invent your own one) is not giving you the experience or the results that you want.
... "Ok." You say. "All very well, but how then do I do that? I can see in the examples you have given that you made up new games to play to replace the default games you found you had just 'inherited', but I am not either a hitch-hiker stuck in the middle of Belgium nor am I either a love-starved single Londoner out on the town. How do I apply what you have said so some other circumstance? What game could I invent to replace my default game w.r.t. ... (fill in the blank)."
Well that is a very good question, and I will be coming back to that in subsequent articles on this website.