Positive Reframing

In my life, I have faced, as we all have, massive obstacles. Sometimes facing those obstacles overwhelms our sense of self, dragging us down into the negative, harming our self-esteem, our feeling of self-worth, and putting us into a dangerous and destructive tailspin.

I am fully aware that there is such a thing as “toxic positivity”, so let me address that first. We never want our positivity to overwhelm our common sense and put us in a position where we are putting up with something we should not. A toxic relationship, a bad working environment, or excusing our own bad behavior. In a very short summary, being positive does not give ourselves or others an excuse to avoid the things we need to do to improve. This is very important for cognitive reframing because we need to be able to identify the situation, emotions, feelings we need to “Reframe”.

Studies have already shown that we can change our brain on a physical level by how we think, talk, and act, and, of course, how we reframe. I will talk about neuroplasticity on a separate blog, but for now, let’s focus on the idea that we can physically change our brain and our neural pathways.

If you were able to change your home, you would not choose to make it sad or negative. Why would we ever choose anything less than a positive way to permanently change how we think and perceive the world around us? The short answer is, we wouldn’t. To do so would be self-sabotage.

So, now that we understand that I am not talking about denial or avoiding reality with positive actions and outlook, we can get down to what it means to positively reframe.

Cognitive reframing, in short, is a mental tool/technique with the steps:

  1. Identifying how we live, perceive, and experience life.
  2. Challenge our vision of the aforementioned.
  3. Consciously and cognitively reframe and restructure our minds to better serve us.

Let’s break down the steps.

Step one:
This step is perhaps the most challenging because often we are not aware of how we perceive and experience the events and emotions we face. Self-awareness is vital for this step. If we don’t understand how we analyze our life, view our surroundings and those around us, we are blind to the very obstacles or opportunities promised to deliver us to our potential best.

Meditation, therapy, active listening, and exercise are some great tools that help quiet the world so that we can hear our own thoughts and perceptions. Those are certainly not the only ways, and part of this step of self-discovery can be both frustrating and uncomfortable, but don’t give up. It’s worth it.

Step two:
Once we are moving forward and becoming more self-aware, we can then begin to challenge our misconceptions, distorted views, or unhealthy thoughts/actions/beliefs.

For me, step two was very hard. I had to face some of my most stubborn beliefs, knowing that many of them were not ideal. At first, I was too hard on myself, and it is important to note that we are all human. Be thankful when you find a “flaw”. It is information that can only help you if you see/find it. So be graceful with yourself when you step into challenging your old obstacles and view each step forward as a massive win. We don’t heal in an instant but over an arc of our journey. I would even add to view this as fun. It is your #opportunity to shape your mind, future, and destiny.

Step three:
Start by changing your words. Verbally choose the word “challenging” instead of “hard”; “opportunity” instead of a “setback”; and “can” in place of “can’t”. These might seem small, but to make a massive difference in a short period of time.

Secondly, begin to listen instead of speak. Listening with intent so others can help us understand ourselves, and even appreciate ourselves.

Each step you take at reshaping your mind by using positive reframing can unlock more patience, wisdom, humility, and self-acceptance.

Most importantly, love the chance you have to reach your best self. Find the good in someone instead of focusing on the bad. Keep an open mind, and, most importantly, move at your own pace. Rebuilding our minds is not a race or a competition.

As I close, please feel no shame in seeking a mental health professional to help you on this journey. We rise by lifting each other up, and any journey is more fun with a cheering section.

~Kirk Patrick Miller ✨
@Chaos2Cured (IG/Twitter/CH)

Mr. Kirk Patrick Miller is a professional speaker, mental health advocate, and radio personality. His book “Chaos to Cured” and his contact information can be found at www.chaos2cured.com.

———————— Disclaimer ———————
Mr. Kirk Patrick Miller is not licensed to practice medicine. His opinions are not meant or intended as mental health advice or guidance of any kind. Should you need help, please reach out to a mental health professional. If it’s an emergency, please call 911. (Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255)

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