A Reframing Story: Shifting from Have to to Get to

Kate E. Eisses

Recently, when I was planning my contribution to dinner at a friend’s, I was looking for a new recipe to try, one of my favorite things to do. I found a recipe that sounded fun, a cucumber yogurt soup. I sent the recipe to my friend for approval, as she is currently experiencing many food limitations. She responded that she couldn’t have dairy products, including yogurt, which was one of the main staples in this recipe. So, instead of reacting with “Now I have to find a new recipe,” I responded with “Now I get to find a substitute for yogurt in this recipe.”

I then set out on a new adventure to find a non-dairy substitute for the yogurt, and the possibilities I found were expansive. I discovered almond yogurt and almond milk. I mixed almond milk with chia seeds for thickness and then a little almond yogurt for the zing. The final product was incredibly tasty and, as a result, my friend discovered not only almond yogurt but coconut yogurt as well. What was once a food limitation for her has now opened up to new food adventures, and she has found limitless possibilities within her food limitations.

The key to unlocking this situation was the shift in thinking from “I have to” to “I get to.” When you think “I have to,” your brain responds with a negative emotion, a feeling of heavy obligation. This response can severely limit you in every aspect of your life. If I had gone looking for a different recipe, instead of working through the challenge, my friend wouldn’t have been introduced to a whole new set of foods that she previously thought she couldn’t eat. Nor would I have found the almond milk that I now drink daily.

Simply by choosing the words “I get to,” I was able to reframe how I was thinking of my challenge and invoke a sense of adventure and exploration to the experience. This approach can be applied in other situations, too. When I started thinking “I get to go to work” instead of “I have to go to work,” my view of work and how I would spend eight hours a day there changed dramatically. I now have a sense of excitement when getting ready for work, a sense of wonderment as to what my day will bring. Now I start each day with a positive emotion instead of dreading waking up in the morning because I have to go to work.

Next time you find yourself saying “I have to,” stop. Shift your language, and instead embark on the adventure with an “I get to” attitude: “I get to go for a walk. I get to take my dog out to play. I get to spend time with my kids. I get to learn something new. I get to solve this challenge that has presented itself.” Changing your haves to gets will change your perspective on life, and ultimately shift your experiences.

© Kate E. Eisses