When you hear the word optimism the old adage of whether or not you see the glass as half empty or half full will almost always come to mind. This saying is used more often or not to show how the same situation can be looked at either positively or negatively. One of the easiest tools used to help people to think more positively or be more optimistic is called positive reframing. Reframing basically means that you take a situation that could be deemed negative and turning that experience into one that is less negative or more positive.
How to reframe.
There are lots of examples of how this can be done. For one, let’s say that you are working at a new job and you want to make a good impression. However, on your first day, you send out an email that is only supposed to go to your supervisor, but instead it is sent to all of your co-workers. This email happens to contain some personal information about your current financial situation and is rather embarrassing. There are several ways that you can handle this situation. A positive way to handle it is to turn it into a joke, perhaps reply to the email stating that at least it wasn’t a naked picture. This response will likely make your co-workers laugh and have a more positive opinion of you. The other option is to become embarrassed and to avoid contact. This response will likely lead to a negative response from co-workers and a work environment that is not as friendly.
I really needed help with positive reframing this week. In 2011 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and by enlarge I’ve been very lucky and managed to keep a job and enjoy life. In December of last year I burned out and this triggered the most significant flare up I have had to date. Resulting in my being unable to work for six months. Three weeks ago I returned to my day job. Truthfully I’m not really ready to go back to work but financially I really need to. I’m lucky that my employer is allowing me to incrementally build my working hours, and I don’t have to dive straight back into full-time hours.
Even so, I was unprepared for how difficult it would be. This week we had a heatwave in the UK and extreme weather conditions of any type ramps up the amount of fame I experience. On Wednesday in work and the pain I was in was making me want to vomit, it made it difficult to concentrate and when I got home I fell asleep on the sofa curled up in the fetal position. When I woke up I was trapped in a cycle of fear and despondency. I was terrified that this would be all that there was to my life, going to work, increasing pain levels and sleep. I was scared that I would have to give my business up and that I would never be able to have any kind of positive impact on the world.
Reframing the pain
So I reached out for some help, I knew that I was getting stuck in ‘my story’ and that I needed a way to reframe my thoughts, so that is just what I asked for. If you are anything like me there will be times when it is easy for you to find another way to look at things, and there will be times where you get so stuck in a loop that even though you know that there must be another way to look at the situation you just can’t see it. There is no shame in asking others to help you reframe things, often another perspective us just what is needed. I got some fabulous responses to my request for help and I am no feeling so much better. Have the pain and fatigue gone? No, not at all but my mindset is different and I feel hopeful and in fact happy for no reason, and honestly I can tell you that feels pretty great, no bs.
When considering positive reframing it is important to note that it does not change what happened. In the above examples, the issue/problems didn’t disappear but the feelings associated with them altered. While the situation cannot be changed the way that you respond to the situation can be changed. Using humor is a wonderful way to diffuse tension and make a difference in a situation that could otherwise be difficult.
Look for the good
Overall, optimistic people tend to look for the good in all things. It’s important to remember that bad things are going to happen in your life. Positive reframing is a good way to make things a bit better when something embarrassing or bad comes up. Take the time to look at all situations carefully and determine how you can reframe the situation to make it more optimistic and ask for help if you need it. This can lead to great improvement in your life overall.