Reframing has been developed through years of research into Positive Psychology, Resilience and Cognitive Behavioural techniques. Karen Reivich, author of The Resilience Factor, teaches the reframing technique as a skill that anyone can use in day-to-day life.
Imagine that you arrive at work one morning and greet your boss. You might ask them how their weekend was, and in return you get an unexpectedly gruff or short response. Immediately, your mind goes into overdrive and you begin to stress. You might question if you’ve done something wrong, start wondering if you’ve let the team down, or even worry that your boss doesn’t like you.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of overthinking things or jumping to a negative conclusion, and these thoughts can create a ripple effect that impact your mindset and behaviour all day. But you can ease this kind of response and positively coach yourself through it by doing one of three things that fall under the notion of ‘reframing’.
The first is to externalise, not personalise. Step back and consider the broader context. Your boss might have a meeting they’re worried about, they might be underprepared for a presentation, something stressful might be happening with their family, or their child was screaming when they walked out the door this morning. Put simply, there are a million reasons for unexpected responses that don’t involve you. Taking stock of the broader picture can help ease anxiety and stop disruptive thoughts.
The second approach is to use hard facts to dispute your negative thoughts. Ask yourself, “Do I have any facts to suggest they don’t like me?” or, “Are there any facts to suggest I’ve done something wrong?” If there are no facts to support your assumption, then let it go.
The third and final thing to do is to measure the usefulness of your thoughts. More often than not, thinking the worst is detrimental to your mood, confidence and productivity. So, ask yourself, “Am I motivating myself or hurting myself right now? Is this thinking useful?” If the answer to your questions provides useful information, then you might want to explore it further. But, if the answer is, “No, it’s not of any use”, then discard it and focus on moving forward.