Every person has his or her own perception which is reflected in the way one views a situation. Perception is like a frame or a lens through which a different person sees and experiences a situation in a countless different ways. If one sees a 6, another might see 9. Whenever we are in such a situation where what we are thinking is not the best for our interest , we can put ourselves in the other person’s shoe, imagine the situation from their eyes and try to live their perspective.
What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.-C.S. LEWIS
It may happen that someone has a frame of thoughts that makes him feel stressed and think negative. In that case, one needs to reframe his or her mind-set so that he or she is able to see the situation with a changed perspective. But your perspective depends a lot on your perception because the latter controls the former. Perspective means your point of view that determines how you see yourself and others and perception means what we interpret of a given situation, how you take information from the environment and make something meaningful out of it .So changing the frame though which we see the world means changing our perspective so that we are able to think differently . This brings us to the term ‘Reframing ‘.
Reframing is a technique that shifts our present thoughts to a slightly different point of view with an aim to change the way we look at people, situations and relationships.
Here are a few examples of reframing :
- If a boy complains that his mother keeps an eye on him and interferes overly in his private matters and where-abouts, here, he can reframe his thoughts by shifting this perspective to a different one that is “she loves him so much that she can never see him indulging in any bad habit or do any kind of risky thing which can harm him.”
- A student who takes class tests as a burden can reframe his thoughts by thinking that he is getting an opportunity to prepare for the exams well in advance .
- A man is very depressed at paying fine for crossing speed limit while driving to office in the morning ,but reframing the thoughts may help him take in a positive note as this fine will deter him from meeting an accident due to high speed driving .
Reframing is done with the purpose of shifting our mindset so as to overcome distorted thinking and enabling ourselves to look at the external environment with a different preview.
There are people who experience mental health conditions unfavorable for their growth. Reframing technique helps them to shift their negative thoughts to positive ones so that they can visualize possible opportunities in the life for favorable change and development . Reframing not only helps in gaining overall mental well-being but it can also help a person become more constructive and resilient in life.
The problem may lie internally or externally , for example , the person may have fear of being looked down upon if he speaks in public(internal problem) or he may have problem with any family member or friend or colleague (external problem).
These problems give rise to negative thoughts about oneself or the other which are needed to be reframed by shifting them to positive ones so that he gains a new or better perspective to look at things or situations.
Strategies for Reframing Negative Thoughts
There is always another way to look at the situations. The only thing required is to identify the alternative view points to see things because that helps the person recognize the availability of those alternatives with the help of a technique called cognitive reframing. This technique addresses or heals various cognitive distortions or patterns of thinking such as:
- attributing same cause to all the problems
- seeing only negative side of a person or situation ignoring the positive side
- considering yourself as a failure
- always seeing situation in extremity i.e. either everything or nothing, either all good or all bad.
There is no harm in addressing these problems on our own independently or with the help of guidance from our elders or loved ones provided they understand us and the situation thoroughly with an unbiased view. However, one may identify his cognitive distortions with the help of a therapist. Once it is identified, it is important to pay attention to the same and start working on shifting these thoughts because they are energy stealing and make us feel depressed and helpless. When we learn to shift our negative thoughts to positive ones, we are able to give a new meaning to same given situation and help ourselves from drowning into our own created sea of anxieties.
To an extent, most of us are prone to unhelpful thought patterns assuming them to be true. However, for reframing these thoughts one can resort to a avenues or steps such as these :
Be Mindful of Your Own Thoughts
If one needs to reframe his thoughts , he/she has to be mindful, pay attention to and accept these thoughts whether positive or negative, helpful or unhelpful. One can pen it down so as to take an account of the usual thinking pattern. Once a person is able to acknowledge his/her thinking pattern, it is easy to find out ways to reframe them into positive thoughts in future whenever the situation is encountered. This will not only reduce the stress and anxiety but will also help the person in living life in a better and positive way.
Check Validity of Thoughts
Our past experiences and present circumstances define the level of our anxiety which actually influences and channelizes our thoughts to negative side. So, one needs to hold and check whether these unhelpful thoughts are the lies that his anxiety may be conveying to him or he has reasons to believe them to be true. Also, one can work on finding the evidences that may help in negating or supporting the thoughts to check their validity.
It is generally observed that we sympathise with people under a stressful situation and would shower a number of advises on them to come out of it but when we find ourselves in such or even worse situation, we tend to isolate ourselves and let all negativity occupy our thought process. So, there is a need of self talk here. You can advise yourself the same way you would have done to your friend as it would open new vistas of productive and optimistic thoughts in your mind .
Do Not Generalize
Our perception is usually based on our past experiences. If something has happened once in a particular situation, we assume that it will happen again when the same situation will re-occur. This results in stereotyping people and may spoil your mental health and even your relationships. For example, while sitting with family members, you give your opinion and one of the members laughs at it making you think unworthy or illogical . You may start avoiding attending such discussions from next time assuming that it will happen again. However, if you reframe your thoughts , you can think of that situation with a different angle and recognise positive aspect of the situation . So, it is advisable not to over generalize the situation and try to make an accurate perspective .
Create and Maintain a Positive Mindset
We are aware of the areas where our negative thoughts lie in abundance. When we are at war , it becomes easy to take action and stop thinking about it . Better is to transform these thoughts into positive ones but this is possible only when we have a positive mindset .Therefore, one needs to establish or create a positive mindset if he or she has decided to reframe these unhelpful thoughts.
So, next time when you find yourself feeling stressed ,overthinking, depressed or sad, try to be mindful of what ‘s happening and shift your thoughts to a different angle through which you can analyse the situation with a broad spectrum .This will make you feel encouraged and emotionally stronger .Life becomes easier as we are able to see more on positive than on negative. Even in hard circumstances, a positive mindset helps an individual to see the problems as challenges and tries to get over them with compassion and focused efforts. Therefore, reframing negative thoughts to have positive feelings will definitely lead to optimism ,hopefulness and a newer you.