Before I began my journey of reclaiming my health after my osteoporosis diagnosis at age 32, I simply thought about the word “reframe” as referring to putting a picture or painting in a new frame. We have a couple of paintings at home that need to be reframed. Reframing them will help us to view them from a different perspective. A new frame might pick up the browns and greens more than the current frame which picks up the purples and blacks.
The same is true in our lives. We can put our thoughts into new frames that will pick up the positives instead of the negatives. Reframing also means to frame or express words or a concept or plan differently. It’s thinking about the best case scenario, instead of the worst case scenario. It’s being more optimistic than pessimistic. I’ll give you an example from my own life. Earlier this summer, my husband, Spencer, went running before church. He’s usually back 45 minutes to an hour before we leave for church so that he can get ready. Thirty minutes before we were supposed to leave, he still wasn’t back and I started to create all types of scenarios in my mind. “What if something happened to him?” “What if I have to go in the street and look for him?” “What if this? “What if that?” Instead I should have thought “Wow, I guess Spencer’s going for a really long run today and is going to get ready superfast.” Do you see how the second set of thoughts is reframing the same situation? It’s seeing the same situation from a positive perspective, instead of a negative one. If I had thought that way, I would have saved myself all the worry and negative thinking that wasn’t necessary because he was just fine and got ready in record time!
Reframing can work in all areas of our lives. For example, in business, when you’re waiting for a call about a big contract or partnership, if that call takes a while to come through, don’t think it’s because you didn’t get the deal. Maybe they’re excited about the possibility of working with you and they’re busy planning your future together and haven’t called you yet. Reframing can be applied to your health as well – just because you have certain symptoms does not necessarily mean that you will be diagnosed with a chronic illness!
Reframing can also work when things don’t go your way. Given that my experience with myasthenia gravis has taught me so much, whenever something negative happens to me now, I try to ask myself “What can I learn from this?” “What is this teaching me for the future?”
If you don’t already do this, I challenge you to start using reframing in your life today. Here are two reasons why:
1. It helps to reduce unnecessary stress. Reframing elminates the stress from a situation that might not even happen. Stress is a major toxin in our lives that is linked to various chronic illnesses, so we want to do everything that we can to reduce stress and handle stressful situations effectively. Thankfully, nothing happened to Spencer while he was out running but had I reframed my thoughts about that situation, I would have reduced the unnecessary stress that I experienced.
2. It helps you to exercise your positivity muscle. We all know that exercising our bodies helps to keep us physically strong and in shape. The same is true when we exercise our minds. Psychologists have found that about 50% of our happiness comes from our habits. This means that we can increase our happiness and positivity if we use the technique of reframing our thoughts about situations on a regular basis.
The next time you’re thinking about the possibility of something negative happening, think about this instead: “Do I know this for sure?” Don’t let negative possibilities become facts in your mind. And the next time something negative actually happens, think about what you can learn from the situation to make you a better person going forward.
Now, I’ll admit that I’m definitely still a work in progress in this area, but I am using these techniques when I am faced with a negative situation or a negative thought crosses my mind and believe me, I feel better every time that I do!
Now it’s your turn. Do you ever have negative thoughts? How do you handle them? Have you ever reframed your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.