Reframing thoughts can make both life and healing a lot easier.
Reframing thoughts have really helped me shift from feeling like I was in constant struggle to feeling like life is a grand adventure of successes.
Before we get to reframes and why they work, let’s make sure you know what I mean when I talk about reframing.
To reframe a thought is to shift it by thinking about your thought in a new way.
Let’s say I’m thinking about how much I miss the sunshine on a rainy day (which is the case right now).
My brother-in-law gave me a lovely reframe for this when I mentioned it to him. He said, “Those are days when we get to make our sunshine from the inside!”
Pretty good eh? While rainy days are still my most challenging weather days, I now have a fabulous way to look at them.
I used to reframe rainy days by saying, “The Mother just need the rain,” and that helped me a bit. But his reframe works even better for me.
Now rainy days are opportunities for me to make sunshine from the inside.
With reframing, you still have your moments of struggle. You just don’t let yourself linger in them.
It is important for me to note that there are times when you should not rush to a reframing thought.
When you are feeling pain that is deep and real, it might be very important to honor the anger or sorrow by expressing it in a productive way.
When it comes to anger, I have not personally found venting to be productive. It might be a way to justify my anger and blame, but it doesn’t clear the energy.
However, creating a sacred space in which to sound my anger or drum my anger (with the drum’s permission), exercising or dancing (with care for my body), walking or running, and even writing or drawing, are a few ways in which I can safely release the energy behind the anger. Using The Holding guided meditation is my favorite.
I’ve used all these approaches equally well with sorrow and grief, too.
It’s important to make sure you end the session in a peaceful state so that the anger or sorrow is resolved in you and in your home.
Honoring difficult feelings, rather than trying to shut them down because they are uncomfortable, brings respect to your life experiences and, therefore, the wisdom that is behind your feelings.
Reframing is useful when you have a persistent thought that tends to drag you down.
I discovered the power of reframing when I realized I had negative thoughts and beliefs that would come up whenever things got tough in my life.
They were thoughts in which I was:
- Beating myself up
- Assuming I wasn’t good enough
- Presumed I was a failure
- Resenting my feelings of helplessness
I would perseverate on thoughts that made me feel bad about myself. Perseverating is when you get stuck on something in your mind that seems difficult to shift.
What I discovered is that reframing helped me actually change those thoughts.
Let’s use our rainy day example. Here’s a thought I used to perseverate on:
Rainy days make me feel depressed. I hate rainy days.
Imagine thinking that every half hour or so throughout the course of a rainy day?
I had been using reframes for rainy days for many year, but my brother-in-law’s reframe really flipped the switch on turning dreary days into inner-world adventures, where I am quite successful creating sunshine from the inside out.
So, when do you use a reframing thought?
Use a reframing thought the moment you hear yourself thinking something that is going to make you feel bad, especially if this is a thought you tend to have repeatedly.
Now that you know when to reframe, it helps to understand how!
Here are 10 Steps for Reframing Your Thoughts:
- Get a small booklet or journal.
- When you have a negative thought, write it down. (Be gentle with yourself. Remember, you are just getting started with your changes.)
- Make note of a thought you tend to have repeatedly, and you’d really like to change.
- Write down about 5-9 different reframing thoughts that seem fun and cheerful to you.
- Choose the reframing thought that uplifts you the most.
- Find a piece of jewelry or a special stone for your pocket that will help you remember this new, reframing thought.
- Do a little ritual in which you repeat this new, reframing thought out loud 11 times while holding the jewelry or stone.
- Wear the jewelry or put the stone in your pocket.
- When you hear yourself thinking the negative thought, put your hand on the jewelry or stone and say the reframing thought.
- Repeat as often as needed until the old thought disappears.
Every time you see and touch the jewelry or stone, you are now reminding yourself about your new reframed thought.
So you are reinforcing a new thought, and ultimately a new belief about how the world works for you.
You are turning negative perseverating thoughts into positive thoughts worth preserving. 🙂
I want to encourage you to be gentle in the process. Transforming thoughts you’ve had for years takes time and practice.
But your persistence will pay off as those new thoughts reshape your experiences. My book, The Root of All Healing gives you multiple examples of how to use reframing in your healing.