Does it ever feel like only bad things happen to you? Or that you feel overwhelmed and just can’t seem to get certain negative thoughts out of your head? As humans, we have this negativity bias that becomes an impulse to focus on any thought or situation that has the potential to bring us pain, stress or worry… of course anxiety is a normal response to many situations and has an evolutionary benefit to keep us safe from danger and pain, but if anxious responses continue past the point of their helpfulness to our safety… it can lead to warped views on reality, the inability to focus on positivity, and therefore generalized anxiety. Think about it… if we are using up all of our energy focusing on the negative, we inevitably have very little energy left at the end of the day to pull out the good that happened.
However, there is a way to develop acceptance of the pain but also bring more focus to the good – and this is called the art of Positive Reframing.
How does it work? Positive reframing works on the premise that all situations are neutral in occurrence… they only become positive or negative through our perception (which is based on your past experiences with similar situations or moral values around what you do or don’t agree with) … so this means that if a situation is not inherently good or bad, then it must be open to interpretation.
Consider these scenarios: Feeling completely embarrassed because you failed at something you were so passionate about? A good reframe would be to consider the fact that you put your effort all on the line in that moment, which is tremendously brave – you faced those fears! Stuck in a situation that feels like will never get better? It must be tough but think of all the life lessons you are learning along the way, especially your capacity to deal with the uncertain.
Could reframing your thoughts to notice the good in tough situations be as simple as turning a phrase? Of course it can, but try not to mistake simple for easy. It is a simple tactic, but it will take practice before reframing becomes natural.
Just like any developed habit, we have to set in action the practice of recognizing the good in any given situation, and once we do, we will be bestowed with some amazing benefits:
- Changing your thought process also enables you to demonstrate behaviours and emotions that you feel comfortable with
- Developed resilience and the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity and challenge
- Increase confidence through empowerment and the ability to become more in control of your reactions
So, I ask you today to challenge those negative thoughts… what thoughts are you giving permission to shape your attitudes, your behaviour and your fears? You just might be surprised what you discover.