Principles of Reframing
The first basic principle is that events or situations do not have inherent meaning; rather, you assign them a meaning based on how you interpret the event.
This can be difficult to accept, but you must. Even when something seemingly horrible happens to you, it is only horrible because of the way you look at it.
This is not to make light of tragedy. It’s perfectly ok to be sad when something seemingly bad occurs. That being said, even a “bad” event can be given a “good” meaning.
The second principle is that every thought has a hidden “frame” behind it. The frame is your underlying beliefs and assumptions that are implied by your thought.
The final principle is that there is a positive intention behind every negative thought.
That inner voice of yours that expresses negativity is only doing so because it wants to help you in some way. That doesn’t make the thoughts right or acceptable of course, but it does mean that your inner voice is not an enemy to be resisted.
By finding the positive intentions behind your thoughts, you can work with your mind to find a positive reframe. That is far more effective than chastising yourself for having negative thoughts in the first place.
How does reframing work
- Observing Your Negative Thoughts
Here are a couple of ways to help you observe your negative thoughts.
- Keep a thought journal. Even if you get nothing else from this article, you will be amazed at what you find out about yourself from keeping a thought journal. Keep a small notepad in your pocket or bag so it is available at all times.. Anytime you have a negative thought, write it down in your journal. This immediately stops your negative thought in its tracks. It also allows you to analyse your negative thoughts and notice the most common problem areas or limiting beliefs you should work on.
- The Rubber Band Technique. Wear a rubber band around your wrist. It should be tight enough that it stays on and can make a nice snap when pulled, but loose enough that it is comfortable and won’t break. Any time you have a negative thought, give the rubber band a snap. Like writing it down, this stops a negative thought in its tracks immediately, but it also conditions you to have fewer negative thoughts in the future.
- Replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts
- Use milder wording. This one is really easy, and you should start doing it immediately. Words do matter, and if your thought is worded with a milder negative, you won’t feel as bad. For example, if you were to think “I really hate that guy”, you would feel worse than if you thought “I’m not a fan of that guy”. So go with the second one.
- Ask yourself: “What is the best way for me to accomplish this?” When you are facing a challenge or fear, you can ask yourself this question to help you focus on the solution rather than the problem. The phrase “best way” implies that there are multiple ways around the problem and focuses on the positive.
- Ask yourself: “What can I learn from this?” Now, instead of having a problem, you have a way to improve yourself. Every challenge is also an opportunity to learn, so take advantage of it.
- Challenge your assumptions. Try to figure out what the frame behind your thought is. Chances are you have a limiting belief that is encouraging you to think negatively about your situation. This limiting belief is based on assumptions you have made that probably are not true. Find reasons why they aren’t true, and you chip away at the beliefs causing the negative thoughts. This is the most powerful long term reframing technique, and it is far more effective if you’ve been keeping a thought journal.
Adapted from: rethinkfinancial.com.au