Three Ways to Reframe a Negative PerspectiveFebruary 08, 2019
Do you love everything about your life? Does every aspect make your heart sing? Do you enjoy every task you have to tackle on a day-to-day basis?
If you said “no”, congratulations! Chances are you are a normal human being. If you said “yes”, well … we suspect you may actually be a unicorn. Being happy about everything, all the time, is just plain unrealistic.
Truth be told, even those with high personal and professional satisfaction – people who would say they are content with their lives – still experience moments of unpleasantness. They have bad days. They receive assignments that feel like troublesome chores. Things don’t work out the way they’d hoped, yet they persevere happily!
So how do they do it? That’s a bit more difficult a question to answer. People with naturally sunny dispositions seem to do it effortlessly; however, there are some habits we all can adopt to help change our perspective.
It all comes down to choice. Even when a situation is out of our control – as it often is – we can still control our reactions to that event. Whether we have a positive or negative response is dictated by us. Basically, this is where the glass half-full vs glass half-empty outlook comes into play.
When it comes to reframing our perspective, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques are often the most successful. It’s something widely used by therapists to assist patients with persistently negative thoughts. Cognitive reframing or restructuring techniques can help lessen anxiety and stress, along with allowing us to see a situation in a new light.
Three Easy Ways to Change Your Thinking
1. Be Aware
One of the first steps to changing the way we think is being aware of our thoughts. Take time to reflect on what’s running through your brain. Oftentimes, we dread certain tasks or set our minds on a negative outcome.
Here’s an example: you have a massive research project to present to management, and you anticipate the worst, expecting your superiors to be disappointed with the findings. Instead of riding a wave of anxiety for days, ask yourself:
a) What is the worst-case scenario?
b) What is the best-case scenario?
c) What is the mostly likely or realistic outcome?
Merely taking the time to evaluate your own thoughts can help identify unnecessary negativity or skewed thinking. And it’s not only big “problems” … this works for the little things as well. If you have one weekly task you absolutely abhor, evaluate it the same way – what is it that you hate about the task? Is there anything you don’t mind? How could you learn to love it? Could you do something differently? Does it serve or contribute to a greater purpose?
2. Stop Overthinking
We know this one is easier said than done. Many of us suffer from a tendency to overanalyze – once an idea gets stuck in your head, it continues on a loop. It’s when you lay in bed at night unable to clear your mind, obsessing over an issue instead of getting some shut eye.
Try this: anytime you catch yourself ruminating on something, take the time to write it down. Sometimes the act of putting it on paper, thereby getting it out of your head, can be enough. But take it one step further by recording whether that time spent overthinking was actually useful. Did you solve the problem? Did you feel any better about the situation at hand? It will allow you to quantify if the time spent pondering was really productive at all.
3. The Normalcy of Disappointment
This point is all about reality – sometimes life stinks, plain and simple. Not every day is going to be a great one. By accepting that disappointment or failure is a normal part of life, and that some things are truly out of your control, it can be easier to stomach. If you can’t change it, you can always still make the best of it, through self-care and compassion.