This is awful. I can’t believe it is happening to us. That’s what I was thinking and feeling when I learned that my 9 month old daughter had significant issues with her sight and needed thick glasses to see. A friend I was talking to said, “That is a disappointment.” She reframed my words from a tragedy to a disappointment. That ticked me off. Disappointment…my first born daughter is a baby who I have to teach to wear glasses. She is going to have to wear thick, thick glasses for the rest of her life and she will probably be made fun of and not have as many opportunities.
I will admit that I lacked maturity and catastrophized about the situation. I was feeling dramatic, but regardless of why I acted the way I did or whether it seems a little ridiculous with the hindsight of 11 years, what she did for me by reframing my perspective on my daughter’s struggle was profound. While there was nothing wrong at face value with having those thoughts…they really didn’t help me moving forward.
The other day I was listening to a podcast of Michael Stelzner sharing about the start and story of his business. During the course of the podcast, he said something like, “If I knew how hard it would be, maybe I wouldn’t have done it.” Then he caught himself right away and said, “No, that’s not true because it was like a puzzle figuring out how to make it work.” That is a cool way of reframing the stress and turmoil that goes into making a new business work into the fun of a puzzle that you need to figure out.
Another example of the power of reframing is a caregiver or mom who thinks, “I am so terrible for yelling at my mom or kids. I am going to scar them instead of help them.” What if, instead, that caregiver or mom reframed that thought to “I made a mistake yelling at my mom. I will apologize and they can see that I am sorry and want our relationship to be better. Sharing my desire for how to act instead will be a model for my kids and draw us closer together.”
When we face struggles or make mistakes we tend to look at what we are going through and get bogged down by all the negative ways that it impacts us. Our thinking frames not only how we look at it, but also what we do as a result.
Putting a new frame or filter on your thoughts. That is what it means to reframe your thinking. It is like giving your thoughts a makeover that is more beautiful and makes everything different. When a thought is reframed from being a dramatic problem to less of a problem or not a problem at all we are able to see growth or benefits in our situation. We can see how the situation can be used by us for good. If you were going through a situation or having terrible thoughts and a simple act could make them different and better. Would you do it?
Let’s talk about what it means to reframe…
4 Steps to Reframe Your Thinking and How They Can Benefit You.
1)The first step in reframing how we think about a situation is recognizing when we are in a cycle of catastrophizing about a situation we are in. It may take a minute but try to recognize when you are stewing about something going on in your life. After you recognize it, consciously decide to break the cycle. It may be hard to do at first. Catastrophizing can have its own pay off and rewards. Some of the rewards can be things like getting sympathy, feeling validated, being taken care of, and having company in the catastrophizing. But when you break the cycle of negative thinking about a struggle you can move forward in a positive way. Otherwise, you are in danger of staying stuck.
2)The second step and maybe the hardest is thinking through how you could look at that situation differently. Take some quiet time and think through how to look at that differently. If you, pray ask for guidance and a new perspective when it comes to your thoughts. It may help to make yourself list 5 things that can be positive about it or ways to change the trajectory to be more positive.
3)The third step is putting it into practice. Decide which perspective you will take. Put it into a sound bite or mantra that you can tell yourself over and over. Put that mantra somewhere that you can see it over and over. You will need to make this new thought a regular part of your thinking. It takes time and repetition to do this. Make sure that you allow yourself this time and repetition to make it happen. But it will happen if you do the work.
4)Finally, it may be helpful to bring someone else in on your desire to reframe your thought or situation. A close friend or family member may be able to help you brainstorm a new way of looking at it or just keep you accountable to change the way you see things.
This is so helpful for me. I am smiling as I think about another situation in my life where someone helped me reframe a thought I had and I often tell people about this because it also helps to cement that new way of thinking. I know I am not alone. When I surveyed caregivers and moms this spring, negative thinking was something that was mentioned a lot as a thing that they wanted to change about their lives. Do the work. Reframe how you look at your thought or situation it will change so much.