REFRAMING: CHANGING OUR PERSPECTIVE WITH GRATITUDE
When we reframe our negative thoughts we change how we think, feel and behave. We accept life for what is, we see the goodness around us, both big and small, and become more positive and more optimistic. Changing our perspective helps us change or narrative.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson
I will be honest with you, I don’t journal every day but I am grateful every day: as soon as I open my eyes, when I look outside first thing in the morning, as I’m drinking coffee looking at the mountains, when my kids wake up, when I drop them off in school, when I’m working, when I’m hiking, when I’m talking to a friend, etc, etc, etc.
I affirm it, I acknowledge it, I share it.
Gratitude develops our positivity and optimism allowing us to see different angles of a situation. It also helps us overcome negativity bias, our natural tendency to always look for the negative first.
Negative, anxious thoughts create stress, headaches, irritability, fatigue, and even depression. How we deal with them can exacerbate or minimize stress.
Gratitude is a great tool to replace our negative thoughts with positive ones, also called reframing. Reframing helps us look at things in ways that create less stress and promote a greater sense of peace and control.
With reframing, we change the way we look at stressors, thus changing how we experience them. Our body’s stress response is triggered by a perceived threat, rather than the actual threat. Reframing is a very powerful tool because it relieves the amount of stress we actually feel, thus changing our physical responses to stress.
Reframing relieves the amount of stress we actually feel, by changing our physical responses to stress.
3 Strategies to reframe negative thoughts with gratitude
Gratitude is my methodology of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. The way I see it, we always have choices, the results we get are in direct alignment with the choices we make.
1. Taking for granted v. Acknowledgement
There are many people, things and events that directly affect our lives. And usually, the ones closest to us are the ones we give the least amount of attention to.
- Think of people in your life you depend on regularly.
- Think of what they do and how their actions make your life better and easier.
- Acknowledge their presence and effect in your life. Send them a thank you note or card.
Everyone likes to be acknowledged.
2. Wishing it different v. Being present
Sometimes we get trapped between wishing our life to fast-forward so that we can get our of the experience or reminiscing of the past, remembering better days. The best way, however, is to stay in the present moment, and accept what is.
- Think of the situation or experience you are going through right now.
- Are you wishing it away?
- Are you wishing your life could fast-forward so that you can live a different time?
- Are you reminiscing of the past, being nostalgic, wishing you could go back to better times?
- Pause. Take a deep breath. Take another breath.
- With attention and intention ask yourself “what positives has your current situation brought to you?”
- How much has your life improved in the present time due to the current experience?
- What is happening now that didn’t happen before and it is a good thing?
Even the smallest blessing or gift can help us stay in mindful awareness of the present moment.
3. Comparison v. Appreciation
It is our natural urge to make comparisons in life. We compare how we live, what we have with our neighbors, friends and even strangers.
Studies have found, however, that our belief of our reality is very different than our actual reality. We tend to believe others are in a much better position than we are. That’s because we usually compare ourselves to people who are not in the same situation as we are. We use unrealistic targets when making comparisons.
Don’t become a victim of the “comparison trap”, because someone will always have more or better than you have, but so will you.
- Think of who you are comparing yourself to.
- Assess their reality and yours: you will find that they are very different realities. You can’t compare different things.
- Pause. Take a deep breath. Look around.
- Now, look at what you already have and how important everything is to you. How it all makes your life better and easier.
- Now connect the dots: How different would your life be if you did not have all that you have?
It’s ok to wish for more and better, but do it without comparison because what you already have has been good to you, so far.
Approach difficult times and negative thoughts with curiosity and no judgment:
- What can I learn from this situation right now?
- What is working and what isn’t?
- What are the positives that this situation is bringing to my life right now?
- How can I make this work without drama?
We can choose to stay mindful of the present moment and relish on the gifts and blessings of our lives or we can choose the drama of feeling victim of the situation.
Look at life and its experiences with appreciation and gratitude. The more grateful we are, the more grateful we become because the more there is to be grateful for.
With love and gratitude,
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