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Have you Ever Tried to Reframe your Thinking?

Updated: May 23, 2023

A bird standing underneath a blossom tree

Are you even sure what I mean by this? If you're interested to learn more and find out how it can help you feel happier, then please read on.

Some everyday examples

Let's say you made a mistake at work and you're feeling frustrated with yourself. Your initial thought might be, "I'm so stupid, I always mess things up."

Have you ever instead tried to spin this thought on its head? How about, "Making mistakes is a natural part of learning and growing. I can use this experience to learn from my mistake and do better next time."?

Another example might be if you're feeling overwhelmed by a task you need to complete (like I do, daily!). Your initial thought might be, "This is impossible, I'm never getting this done."

But instead you could try, "This is a challenging task, but I can break it down into smaller, manageable steps. By focusing on each step, I can make progress and eventually complete the task."

Personally, I find this second one a little more difficult to reframe as my default setting is often to allow myself to become overwhelmed.

But why is this so difficult to do?

If you can relate to me on the second point, that’s reassuring for me to know and the great news is that we’re not alone, there’s a good reason for this. Our brains are wired to look for potential threats or dangers in our environment as a survival mechanism which is often referred to as the "negativity bias."

The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure in the brain, plays a key role in this process. It is responsible for detecting potential threats and triggering the "fight or flight" response in the body. This response is useful in dangerous situations, as it prepares us to react quickly and protect ourselves.

However, this also adversely affect our mental well-being if we become overly focused on negative events or experiences. Again, if you can relate to this, then you should be reassured to know that it's a normal response but you can retrain your brain to have a more positive outlook and this is what I mean by reframing.

Here is another really easy hack you can try right now

I’ve shared before in my blogs that I listen to The High Performance Podcast regularly while I am working. I first heard this tip on there so I am going to acknowledge that first and foremost before I share it with you. Although I don't think they invented it.

A cat being held and cuddled
It's not always just about the good times

You know when you get up in the morning and you have that feeling of dread because there’s something you have to do that you don’t really relish doing? Well for me, this morning, it’s cleaning the cat’s litter tray…. If you have a cat, you can definitely relate. It’s the worst job and I literally hate it.

But what happens if I reframe this thought? Instead of saying "I have to clean their tray" what happens if I say "I get to clean their tray"? Well unfortunately I still need to do it but does this simple language trick mean I can see this task as an opportunity rather than a chore?

Now I love my cats, they’re my world but I don't necessarily see clearing up after them as a privilege, so no, I would't go that far. However, it is a reminder to me that they are part of my life, they make me enormously happy and if I didn’t ‘get to’ take care of them, that would mean that they wouldn’t be around, which would make me really sad. So ultimately I'm a little happier this morning as I go about the business of donning the gloves, the peg for my nose and getting stuck in, which is just about the best we can hope for in this situation really isn't it?

For many people, the overriding feeling when they get up in the morning is the feeling of having to go to work, which for many is not a particularly positive feeling. So how about instead of saying today "I have to go to work," why not try "I get to go to work today," and reminding yourself that you have a job, a source of income and a way to spend your time that leaves you feeling fulfilled, which is something to be grateful for because you ‘get to’ enjoy the other aspects of your life outside of the 9 to 5.

"I get to be the best that I can be today."

Reframing "I have to" as "I get to" really does help us shift our perspective from one of obligation to one of opportunity, and it can help us appreciate the things we have in our lives, rather than focusing on what we lack. Just try it a few times today and note what happens and how it makes you feel.

In the same way that having a healthy body requires daily attention to the choices we make about nutrition, rest and exercise, developing and maintaining a health mind requires daily exercises too but as with all of this, it’s the little things we do often that add up to the overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.

While you're here, why not check out my collection of 'You've Got This!' affirmation pictures?

Have a fab day, Helen x

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