Reframing is a technique I use all the time with clients because it is so effective in getting them to think differently and to look at situations with different eyes, which can lead to significant personal development.
We constantly have an endless stream of self talk going on in our heads, some positive, some negative. It is the negative thoughts that often get the most attention, and we can easily expand on a simple thought which becomes a perceived bigger issue than it really is. For many of us, this leads to thinking about all the extreme consequences that could happen (however rarely does). It is part of our survival brain but doesn’t really serve us these days.
Reframing is changing thoughts and statements into an opposite and positive thought or statement. Statements like “I can’t do that” can become “I could do that if I tried this approach”, or “Nobody loves me” to become “I am loved by lots of people if I look harder”. What you are doing with reframing is questioning and challenging that thought.
I sometimes get lots of resistance from people when I ask them to challenge their own thoughts. They usually have never questioned their thoughts and it scares them. They don’t need to be confined to their negative thoughts or current way of thinking.
Reframing is best done as soon as you have thought thoughts, catch them and deal with them quickly. Say something that highlights your attention to those thoughts. My mentor has a great saying called “Cancel Delete”, and it is exactly that. Catch your thought, cancel the energy associated with it, delete it, and replace it with a more appropriate, positive statement.
Reframing can also be done regarding situations. “Can this day get any worse” is probably thoughts that we have all had at some point where nothing is going right and we are getting more and more frustrated. This can create a negative spiral where we expect, even look for, more negative things that reinforce that statement. Reframing that statement into something like “Today is giving me lots of opportunities to learn new ways of doing things and engaging in my creativity”. As an experiment, say the first statement of “Can this day get any worse” and notice how your body feels and your energy level. You probably feel heavy, sad, sluggish and lacking energy. Now say the statement of “Today is giving me lots of opportunities to learn new ways of doing things and engaging in my creativity” and take note of how you feel. Hopefully you experience a higher energy feeling, happiness or at least optimism, and motivation.
Reframing can also help to release limiting beliefs. By challenging an often long held belief that is restricting our personal growth, we can gain an insight into where it came from and how it is no longer appropriate to believe that. Our limiting beliefs are often formed when we are very young, and as adults, those beliefs are simply not true for us any more.
Instead of thinking about what could go wrong, what would happen if we all started thinking about what could go right.
So, your activity for today is to be aware of the statements you are making to yourself or others, and reframe the negative ones with positive empowering statements that make you feel lighter, motivated, excited and energise. Keep a journal today and write down your negative limiting thought and then write down your new positive thought. Say the new thought five times and take action.
Let me know your results in the comments below.