If you haven’t already, make sure to read Cognitive Reframing: Part One. Part one of this blog gives an overview of what cognitive reframing is, and how cognitive distortions play a central role in the thought patterns that cause us to jump to conclusions.
In part two, we will explore the methods in which we can employ to combat these automatic reactions to free ourselves from the shackles of negativity.
Become Aware of Your Thoughts
Catching yourself when your brain slips into old patterns of negative thinking is easily the most important step. To challenge and then eventually change these conditioned responses requires a degree of self-awareness that will take some practice. The key is to be gentle with yourself, be mindful of your thoughts and simply take notice.
Many people find it useful to keep a journal and record their thoughts when events pop up. When you’re ready, you can review these entries and view them through a different lens. Meditation is also a very helpful practice. Simply observing thoughts allows you to analyze them more accurately, as you are less emotionally attached.
Challenge and Transform Your Thoughts
Examining thoughts that occur and filtering out whether they’re true or accurate is an effective part of reframing. Additionally, questioning thoughts as to their validity is paramount.
When you’re able to revise a negative mode of thought into a more positive one, not only do your thoughts transform but so does your whole being. A simple replacement of a certain word can have dramatic effects. Discomfort over pain, challenge over the problem, opportunity over failure. These methods have been used throughout human history.
Like all mindfulness techniques, practice is the key to achieving what you require of these important skills. What you’ll soon realize is that you possess the ultimate power to shape your life as you see fit. Your particular thoughts about a situation are ultimately more important than the situation itself.
Don’t Let Your Negative Mind Win
Your negative mind enjoys seeing reality darker than it is and portrays you as less powerful than you are. When you respond to negative events with a negative core belief (I’m worthless, this is pointless, etc.), it often leads to inaction, anxiety, depression, and anger. You begin to develop a negative view of yourself, the world, and the future.
By continually practicing cognitive reframing, you can begin to identify the automatic negative responses and challenge them. You’ll notice they can transform into fleeting thoughts, undeserving of a negative reaction. This proves that when we view a negative thought from a distance, we don’t give it the negative power it craves; we don’t allow it to win.
Tips to Use Cognitive Reframing in Your Life
With this new understanding of cognitive reframing, we hope you’re able to incorporate it into your life. As with anything, it will take practice. Remember, recognize toxic thoughts and feelings as they come and try your best to reframe them.
To challenge negative thoughts, here are a few questions to keep in mind:
- What went right?
- What was positive?
- How can I turn the loss into a win?
- What’s the best way to respond?
- What if my beliefs were different?
To neutralize negativity, here are a few exercises you can do:
- Surprise or shock – exercise, cold shower
- Curiosity – What lead to this?
- Improvement – observe others in a similar situation
- Creating a framework for the next steps
At Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic, our team of professionals is here to help. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health and/or addiction, call us today to learn more about the services we offer.