Reframing is a technique taken from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that helps people learn to challenge their negative beliefs and meet them with a more positive outlook. People struggling with depression, PTSD, anxiety, or tenuous family dynamics can often have the tendency to experience life colored by negative perceptions. Reframing helps teach the brain to entertain the possibility of different perspectives, rather than remain stuck in one vantage point. The following is a basic outline on reframing negative thoughts.
- Identify the negative thought. What thought has got you feeling upset, rejected, outraged, etc.? “She’s running late again. I guess I’m not important enough to her.”
- Is the thought true? Just because a thought or emotion feels real, doesn’t always mean it’s true. Check the accuracy of your thought–is this a certainty or an inference?
- Is this thought compassionate? Are you viewing yourself or others in a compassionate light? Is the thought creating separation from you and those you care about? Examine where this thought comes from. Perhaps there is a history there that makes you particularly sensitive. Does this thought play on an insecurity? Try meeting yourself and the other with compassion rather than judgment. How can you befriend rather than judge the thought?
- Is this thought constructive? Does this thinking process allow you to function at your best? Is it contributing to your well-being and the well-being of others?
- Reframe the thought. Search for alternatives to your negative thought. Explore different possibilities. “She’s running late, maybe she’s stuck in traffic. I am going to greet her with a big hug and smile when she arrives to help ease our stress.”
Keeping a thought record is a helpful, more structured way of reframing your negative beliefs.
Reframing allows you to take power over your thoughts and it’s a reminder to stay in the moment and not allow history to dictate our feelings to us. Notice how you feel when you allow yourself to see things in a different light.