The power of positive thinking is real. That also means that hearing our negative self-talk can create a negative attitude. To help us reframe our initial thoughts when things go wrong, psychologist and The Local Moms Network contributor Reon Baird-Feldman, Ph.D., explains a powerful technique called cognitive reframing. It helps us make “positive vibes” a reality, without dismissing or glazing over how we truly feel. Dr. Reon promises that the outcome is powerful if we’re just willing to practice. Here’s how:
What is cognitive reframing?
Cognitive reframing is an evidence based psychological technique that identifies negative automatic thoughts, ideas and/or emotions and replaces them with more balanced thoughts and perspectives.
Why does this method work? What’s the brain game we have to play?
The premise behind cognitive reframing is that our thoughts are a catalyst for our emotions and behaviors. This means that negative thoughts can lead to negative emotions and positive thoughts can drive positive and constructive emotions. Of course, it’s totally natural to have some negative thoughts, but where we start shouldn’t be where we end up. Cognitive reframing is what shifts the mindset. Its power lies in helping us view a problem through a different lens, and ultimately, our reaction to the problem changes because of our attitude. Admittedly, it’s not easy to do at first. But, if we commit to practicing this method, it begins to feel intuitive.
Practice and see a boost in positivity in your life.
Interesting! So how do we start using this technique?
To practice cognitive reframing, try changing your point of view the next time a challenge arises.
Ask yourself, “What is another way to look at this situation?”
For example, you get an email that the youngest of your 3 kids starts rehearsals for his school play at 7:30pm each night, interrupting the dinner and bedtime routine in your household. Your first response is frustration about the inconvenience and stress about how you’ll manage it all.
To reframe this, look for any possible “bright spot.”
Could you get help at home from a spouse, babysitter, or grandparent and use the time after dropping off your child to work on your laptop, answer emails, or chat with other parents?
This could be an opportunity to step out of the routine for a night. That feels good!
Cognitive reframing sounds like something our kids should learn too. How can we model this or narrate our thoughts so they can learn this from a young age?
We can absolutely help our kids learn to reframe negative thoughts. Before we reframe, though, it’s important to validate a child’s feelings. Cognitive reframing does not encourage denial of any kind, it simply encourages the development of positive and healthy self-talk.
As another example: 5 year old Alex complains to Mom that Sam didn’t want to play with him in recess today even though he promised that he would. Then, Sam ended up playing with Victor and Rose. First, acknowledging the disappointment is key. Then, reframe their experience to highlight their resilience and flexibility. You could point out your son’s opportunity to spend time with different friend groups and play new games. This shows your child that there are different ways to view the same situation.
Want to learn more? Here are additional examples that Dr. Reon prepared for us.