6 ways to reframe negative thinking
6 ways to reframe negative thinking
What does it take to reframe negative thinking?
If you find you’re berating yourself with negative self-talk, nip it in the bud before it festers and becomes a self-defeating habit.
Challenge yourself when you hear yourself thinking, I’m hopeless at this. I was never going to win. Who am I kidding? This is never going to work!
How can you reframe those statements to be kinder and encouraging to yourself?
If I practise a bit more, I’ll get better. I had the same chance as everyone else. I’ll try again next year. I need to look at what I could do differently next time to get a different outcome.
This sort of self-encouragement is realistic optimism and is very different from ‘just think positive’ advice or blind faith, which is unhelpful.
Albert Bandura reminds us it’s the difference between thinking that success will come easily (‘She’ll be right’) and that it will come with careful thought, planning and applied effort.
If you expect a couple of roadblocks and obstacles on the way, you’re better prepared and less likely to be caught off guard (‘I didn’t expect that to happen’).
Whether you’re on a diet, starting an exercise program to get fitter or signing up to take an online degree, anticipating that there will likely be a few hiccups better prepares you to deal with them effectively.
1. Set the intention
It only takes a moment to reset your thinking. Setting aside a couple of minutes to attune yourself to your thoughts and feelings at the beginning of the day equips you to make your
choice and go from there.
By regularly affirming your intention to have a good day, you can quickly shift from having an excess of not-so-great days to more great days at work.
Have you scheduled in that five minutes to reset?
2. Reduce negative inputs
It’s good to stay informed about world events, but in the era of the 24/7 news cycle, when attention-grabbing headlines are repeated every hour, bad news provokes chronic anxiety, which in turn triggers the need for updates every five minutes.
Instead of relying on information from proven reliable sources, you start to read anything written by anyone with an opinion, whether or not they are qualified to share it.
Far from alleviating your anxiety, repeated images and reports highlighting the dangers of scarcity, atrocity or disease further aggravate your internal stress response.
The confusing and often contradictory information heightens your anxiety and draws you deeper into the social contagion.
3. Seek other perspectives
Your world view is unique to you and you alone.
While hard to accept that not everyone shares your viewpoint (how can they not understand how your perspective is right — every time?), staying open and willing to hear alternative perspectives provides you with more options.
It may not often change your view, but sometimes it might, and it will help you to understand why others think differently.
4. Ditch perfectionism
Perfectionism sucks, because it’s unattainable. The more we seek perfection, the harder we make things for ourselves and the more unhappy we become.
There is beauty in imperfection, when we permit ourselves to see it.
Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pots using lacquer mixed with precious metals such as gold or silver, transforming what was broken into something even more beautiful than it was in its original form.
The philosophy of embracing our flaws and imperfections can help us to overcome the pain of a broken relationship, a failed business, or the struggle associated with being an entrepreneur
or single parent.
5. Surround yourselves with people who inspire you
Having more positive and optimistic people around you provides a useful reality check and helps minimise catastrophic thinking, especially important in those times when you’re in a bit of a funk and in desperate need of inspiration.
6. Get out of the armchair of comfort
Change can be scary, overwhelming and tiring. But without change we do not grow, and without growth we fail to adapt and evolve.
Challenging the status quo, stepping out of your comfort zone, is going to be uncomfortable, and yes it can get messy and possibly not deliver what you hoped for.
But that’s okay because it shows you tried and if you don’t try there’s little hope of achieving your dreams.
So get comfy with the discomfort of doing something that scares you a little, because you know it has the potential to make a positive difference.
A stretch goal is energising and motivating. It could be the thing that radically changes your life for the better. How great is it going to feel when you succeed?
Edited extract from Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) by Dr Jenny Brockis. Now available at all good bookstores and online at drjennybrockis.com