Our thinking is the lens with which we look at the world and positive thinking is often likened to wearing rose tinted glasses; everything looks better through them. When we encounter stressors in our lives, more often than not, our perspective and anxieties can cause us to make a mountain out of a molehill. In turn, escalating the problem.
Cognitive reframing is a practical and psychologist-recommended approach for looking at things in a way that effectively minimises the potency of the annoyance. It refers to altering our perceptions of circumstances to see them in a more positive, realistic, and less stressful way and can also be used to develop self control.
Use these techniques in your day to day life to maintain a positive outlook and gain better control over your thoughts and actions.
Detect cognitive distortions
The first step towards the solution of a problem is its identification. When you come across a stressor, be it a disagreement with somebody close to you, a loss, facing discrimination or an unexpected change in your life, you should always keep an eye out for the following distorted patterns of thinking that we’re all guilty of:
- All or nothing thinking: Thinking in extremes.
- Mental Filter: Disqualifying the positive and only focusing on the negative of a situation.
- Overgeneralisation: Obsessing over an isolated event and thinking all future events will be the same.
- Jumping to conclusions: Fortune-telling or making assumptions too soon without any factual evidence.
- Labelling: Putting yourself or others in categories of extremes, such as “I’m always afraid” or “she’s a cheater” etc.
- Emotional reasoning: Making judgments and assumptions just because you felt emotional. “I’m angry with you, so you must be wrong”.
Challenge your thinking
After you have identified these thoughts, have them clear in your mind, or even written down, then you can begin to challenge them for their credibility:
Are they based on facts or truths?
What is the evidence for and against my way of thinking?
What else could it mean? If I were being positive, how would I view the situation?
Is this way of thinking helping me to achieve my goals?
Will this matter in five years time?
Or am I just blowing things out of proportion?
Challenge what truth your negative thoughts hold and instead, see them in the light of reality.
Replace negative thoughts with positive and helpful ones
After you have identified and fact-checked your worries, ask yourself, what can I do now to make my situation better? Try to look at your stressful job as a challenge instead of a threat. Look for the right part of the problem you’re facing. Instead of labelling others, try to look at your issues from someone else’s perspective. How would they react if they were in my shoes? And the list goes on.
Throughout the process, observe your mood and avoid making your next decisions whilst in a negative frame of mind. By being aware of your thoughts and acknowledging them in a non-judgemental way, you can condition yourself to deal with them before giving them the power to affect your positive vibes!