A common assumption today is that if you're not happy, then you should be able to push a button or take a pill to fix yourself. However, you're not a machine. Plus, there's no use trying to solve a problem doesn't really exist in the first place. The truth is that none of us is really “broken” and we don’t need to be “fixed”. It’s not a useful metaphor. You were born perfect. What may have occurred along the way are experiences you have had, decisions you have made and beliefs you have developed that have installed programming that does not serve you. The goal then is to reframe that programming. Delete it if you will and install a more powerful view and vision for your life. Programming that serves and supports you in feeling joyful and amazing and accomplishing all that you desire in your life.
You can reframe beliefs that don’t serve your interests or values.
Here’s how it works. We live life and have experience and then represents those to ourselves as stories that form our beliefs and ultimately the basis for what we value in our life. Sometime these thoughts cause terrible pain. The reason this happens is because the story we tell ourselves and the beliefs we have formed about the occurrence are represented as painful and debilitating. They don’t support our well-being. Sadly, we’ve been telling ourselves these story and holding onto these beliefs for so long that we accept them as true and normal. However, you can reframe your thoughts to become happier through cognitive restructuring.
The Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine defines cognitive restructuring as a strategy to help recognize inaccurate thoughts and replace them with ones that are more helpful and realistic . As a key part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, this strategy promotes thinking optimally about a stressful situation to reduce the emotional distress associated with it.
Cognitive restructuring often includes:
- Writing down what a situation is all about
- Listing the negative thoughts that transpired
- Detailing the emotions that arose while having those thoughts
- Identifying the distortions that may lie beneath each idea
- Challenging each thought
- Generating rational responses to each notion
Rational responses are statements we use to feel better about a given circumstance. For example, cognitive restructuring can help patients with chronic conditions manage their illness, and these tools can help radically transform how you think about yourself, your life, your relationships and your future.
Using the principle of reframing, we can identify any unhelpful thought and change it into a more positive one. To simplify, here are three basic types of negative thoughts we can change:
1. Limiting Beliefs
These thoughts are the ones that prevent us from reaching our full potential. They tell you that you are “not good enough.” Without challenging them, they will prevent you from achieving what you really want out of life. Reframing these thoughts counters the limiting beliefs to reduce the possibility of them getting in the way of achieving your goals.
2. Wishing Acceptable Situations Were Better
These are thoughts that plague us when we are perfectly happy in a situation, but we beat ourselves up for missing out on something more exciting. By reframing the situation, you can enjoy the moment you are in even more.
3. Specific Problem Areas
These thoughts prevent us from achieving success in specific areas of our lives that we would like to change. People often find excuses for not doing something, like going to the gym as an example, because it is raining in the moment. Reframing finds a positive reason that motivates you to go.
Principles of Reframing
Before actively applying reframing to your personal development, it is critical to know and accept the principals involved. When we understand exactly what is going on behind a specific thought, the reframe will be much more effective.
Events and situations do not have inherent meaning. We assign meaning to them based on how we interpret them. Of course, we will feel sad when a tragedy occurs, but we can reframe even “bad” events to have a more-expansive, positive meaning. For example, some people think that death is a joyous occasion while others feel that losing a loved one is the end of the world. When you change your perspective and focus less on how the loss has caused a personal tragedy in your life, you can reframe the event into something more positive.
Every thought has a hidden meaning behind it. There are underlying assumptions, beliefs and values behind your thoughts. For example, if you think you’ll never get a promotion without groveling to the boss, then you may believe that only people who flatter the boss get promotions.
There is a positive intention behind each negative thought. When our inner-selves express thoughts that we perceive as negative, they do so to help us in some way. That does not make the thoughts less negative, but it does mean that your inner voice is not your enemy. Find the positive intentions behind the thoughts to find more effective ways to frame things .
Be careful what thoughts you let into your mind
In today’s world of electronic media, we constantly view new information on the news, TV, movies and blogs. This deluge of media allows us to reach new levels of education never before possible. However, the misinformation we see can distort our views and influence our future choices, whether we later discover that they are true or not. We can be heavily influenced by information we receive in areas we have very little knowledge that conform to our existing beliefs. People must be critical about the information they consume by questioning everything they let into their minds to avoid the deceit of misinformation. By becoming alert about what you allow into your awareness, you will have greater control over your consciousness.
Rewrite the unwanted stories in your mind
Your story includes your beliefs about yourself and how you show up in the world. Your tale has all types of life experiences within it. When limiting beliefs, suffering and fear move to the forefront of our thinking, they rob us of our ability to move forward towards our goals. Behaviors of self-sabotage are attempts to unconsciously protect ourselves from having similar negative experiences that reinforce our story of why we are unable to move on.
Every time we complain about our situation to someone, we tell our story. This story is a racket that appears real to us, but merely represents a version of what really happened. We focus on everything that could possibly go wrong. These repressed, unresolved emotions create the limiting beliefs that keep us in the same old story for years.
Start rewriting your story by changing your thoughts
You are the author of your story, and you are the one who gets to change the narrative at any time into one that is more powerful and serves you well. Start by finding out how you interpret past experiences in your life. There are two basic types of interpretations: those that empower and those that disempower us. While two people may experience the exact same negative circumstances, one will go off the rails and never recover while the other will have a successful life . After everything these two people have endured, they both feel that they could not have turned out any differently. However, one decided not to let the past affect the future while the other one allowed their past to destroy their future.
The moral is that everyone has a choice of how to interpret the circumstances of their lives. We can focus on the negative and everything that went wrong, which leads to pain and suffering. Or, we can look at what is right and find the opportunities that lead us to fulfillment by framing our future in the positive.
As you become adept at finding positive opportunities in your life challenges, you will begin to see your past in a new light. Everyone has experienced some kind of loss at one time or another. One way of looking at it is to know that if you had a perfect life, you would not have the gifts you now have to cope with life today .
Here is a fun activity to help you rewrite your story
Every great story has a hero that faces many challenges and obstacles. Heroes need a lot of courage and perseverance to achieve their goals. When necessary, they seek help. Use a journaling exercise in which you describe yourself as the hero in your own life story.
Start by writing a one-page summary of what happened to you during the day. Then go back over what you have written and cross out all the sentences with a victim’s voice and change it into an active voice. When you describe an event in the victim’s voice, you will say something like, “My boss yelled at me today.” By changing it into active voice, it sounds more like, “I allowed my boss to vent his frustrations loudly.”
Then write down your story with you as the hero and what you would do about the situation to stop it from happening again in the future. Alternatively, if something great happened to you, then write down the best possible version of what you would like your hero self to experience the next day.
The final step is to write down a resolution of what you can do as the hero of your story to have a better tomorrow. This way, you’ll change your mind about who you would like to be and how you would like to live your life.
About the Author: Suzanne Leopold started Living Mavens in 2016 to share some of the products and techniques that help her focus inward and transform her life. With over 15 years of exploring energy and manifesting modalities, she is passionate about creating a life she loves and sharing her discoveries with others. To learn more on how to consciously create a life you love, go to www.livingmavens.com