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Nancy was tired of feeling and looking on the negative side. She wanted to make a change in how she spoke and begin reframing her thoughts. But she needed help and practical suggestions so she asked her life coach for advice. Her coach recommended that she begin by using some of these ideas…
Keep A Negative Thought Journal
Although it might sound odd, the first step to learning how to reframe your thoughts is to become aware of them. Try keeping a journal with you and write down every negative thought you have for a day or two.
If that sounds too difficult, you can keep a negative thought scorecard. With this method, you don’t have to write down the thought. You just make a tally mark for each negative thought you have. At the end of the day, your true number might surprise you.
Ask A Supportive Friend If It’s True
Sometimes, the easiest way to become aware of which thoughts need to be reframed is to ask a supportive friend if that particular thought is accurate. For example, you might ask a friend, “Will I always be stuck in a job I hate?” or “Will I always be unhappy in my relationship?”
When you ask a friend for this kind of feedback, choose a friend that’s known for their honesty as well as their kindness. Positive friends can be a wonderful way to learn about reframing your thoughts.
Look for Patterns
As you’re examining negative thoughts and seeking to become better at reframing them, pause to look for patterns, too. For example, Nancy found that she was more likely to give in to negative thinking after a long day with no self-care.
For you, unhealthy thought patterns can be triggered by stress, unhealthy eating habits, poor sleep quality, and toxic relationships. Often, correcting these patterns can lead to reframing your thoughts in a more positive light.
Call It What It Is
Many people carry around stories in their head about who they are and what their life is like. For example, you may have a story in your head that says you’re too dumb to go back to school.
But, sometimes reframing involves recognizing a story we keep carrying around. This frees you to examine if it’s really true or if it’s merely a self-limiting belief you picked up somewhere along the way.
Nancy began using these tips to reframe her negative thoughts. She was surprised at how quickly it created a ripple effect in every area of her life, including her relationships, business, and health.
How Reframing Looks and Sounds in Real Life
Cynthia wanted to start a business but she struggled to get it off the ground. She reached out to a mentor who listened as she described her idea. Her mentor recommended that Cynthia focus on her word choices and reframe negative thoughts around her business.
When you want to start something new, like a business, charity, or special project, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and focus on the negative. But becoming aware of the language you use can be powerful and enlightening. When it comes to your thought process, pay attention to the following negative words…
Always or Never
One of the quickest ways to spot negativity is to look for absolutes in your speech or thinking. For example, Cynthia frequently complained, “I’ll never have enough time to focus on my business and get it started.”
When you hear yourself use “always” or “never”, pause and rephrase your thoughts. Instead of saying, “I always struggle to write papers for my professors”, try something more positive like, “I am learning to improve my writing skills while in college.”
I Hate or I Can’t
When it comes to reframing negative thoughts, pay attention when you hear yourself using hate or can’t. Hate is a strong word and it can be an indication that something in your life needs to change. For example, if you say, “I hate running late”, ask yourself what you would have to do to stop running late. Do you need to get up an hour earlier? Do you need to prepare your lunch the evening before so you have more time in the mornings?
Can’t is another word that should trigger serious reflection for you. When you use it, slow down and evaluate. Consider if it’s really true that you can’t do this. For example, you might say, “I can’t try out for that modeling gig.”
But is it accurate to say that you don’t have what it takes? Instead, ask yourself, “Is this just fear hiding behind I can’t?” Don’t be afraid to get honest with yourself here.
It’s easy to get caught up in the if only’s of life. You think, “If only my parents had stayed together” or “If only I had made different choices that day.” While thinking these things might make you feel good and give you a shot of self-pity, ultimately, they don’t help you.
Instead, they keep you trapped as you relive your past and wallow in negativity. When you hear yourself use the term, “If only”, pause and correct it by saying, “What’s done is done, I accept my past fully and completely.”
This can trigger uncomfortable feelings, and you may realize that you have to forgive people in your life for the mistakes they’ve made. You may also have to forgive yourself for the poor choices you’ve made.
At first, learning to reframe your thoughts may feel difficult. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable while you’re learning something new. But the more you do it, the more you’ll realize that reframing your thoughts can truly set you free.
Learn about the beautiful benefits of reframing your attitude when you download your free workbook!
Loving Life–The Reboot!