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  Jane Miller
BSc  PhD  ECPC


 
 
 
 

Articles -- Reframing

Some people seem to be able to smile and see the bright side of any situation.

These people will face seemingly negative situations with buoyancy and resilience. For example, if they had just lost a job, they would be thinking something like, "Well this is just what I needed to get me looking for a job that I will find truly fulfilling!"

This type of attitude results in a much happier life, since you never stay locked in a negative emotion, but you are always moving purposefully towards a positive goal.

Sometimes noticing your emotional reaction can help you catch a negatively framed thought pattern. For example, a colleague comes over to your desk and says, "Oh, I noticed an error in the report that you just sent out", and you feel a sense of panic. As soon as you notice the emotional reaction, look for the thought behind it - perhaps the thought is, "I'm going to look like an idiot!"

In this example, the thought (I'm going to look like an idiot) is certainly not helpful in moving you forward. It keeps you locked in a negative place, so you need to REFRAME it by looking for the opportunity and what you can learn from the situation. The opportunity might be that you can improve your report; and you can learn how to gracefully recover from a mistake.

As soon as you shift into a learning mindset you move past the feeling of helplessness, you move into a position of power and you get creative about how to make this situation an opportunity for improvement.

The initial negative reactions may continue to happen, but with practice, you will become more proficient at switching to a positive, learning mindset and moving forward with energy and optimism.

Exercise
Learn to change your 'habits of thought':

  1. OBSERVE
    • Notice any negative emotional reaction to an event.
    • Explore the thought behind that emotion.
  2. ANALYZE
    • Ask "Is this thought helpful in moving me forward?"
  3. REFRAME
    • What is the opportunity in this situation?
    • What can I learn from it?


 
 
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