Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Our mindset has the power to shape our experience of the world. Our mindset is so powerful that it can steer the level of health, joy and success in our lives. Negativity increases our feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-worth, while positivity makes us feel more alive, confident and resilient. But often we feel we have no power over our mindset and are at the mercy of the circumstances that are thrown at us.
Positivity is about intention
It is true that some of people are naturally more positive leaning than others, but anyone who does have a positive mindset can tell you that this mindset is a choice. Whether someone is naturally positive, or they had to work at becoming so (raising my hand here!), having this mindset is an intentional act of searching for the options one has available to perceive a seemingly undesirable situation as one that offers an opportunity or has a “bright side” so-to-speak.
Can you think of an undesirable situation you’re in now where it hasn’t even occurred to you to think of a positive way to look at it? I’ll give you a personal example. I remember having a job I absolutely hated. Getting out of bed each week day was a sheer act of will because I dreaded the day ahead of me. For a while I felt completely stuck, especially because I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I reframed the situation by seeing the opportunity to take inventory of what I wanted. I became purposeful about doing the work to know myself deeper: my strengths, my ideal work culture, leaders I look up to, the conditions in which I feel in a productive and high performing flow. Being stuck lit a fire under me to collect data and get super clear on my criteria to feel satisfied in the next opportunity. This gave me improved focus and direction in the opportunities I pursued going forward. But I wouldn’t have gotten there if this job hadn’t forced me to do the self-reflective work. As it turns out, my setback set me up to win!
Reframing shifts perspective
Reframing is a technique often used in therapy to help create a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing its meaning. When you reframe, you are actively allowing yourself to see another angle beyond the automatic negative view. Below are questions you can ask yourself to reframe and break out of the spiral of negative thought.
Is there a valuable learning opportunity available for me in this situation?
Is this setback actually a challenge that I can overcome with a different approach?
Can I be grateful for the personal growth that I can carry with me from this experience?
Is a perceived loss actually an opportunity for me to make myself available for something better?
What evidence do I have from my past that tells me I can overcome this adversity?
Developing a positive mindset takes consistency. A great way for these reframes to become a habit is to practice journaling. Putting your thoughts down on paper helps you develop self-awareness of your mindset around an issue and reflecting on how a reframe can expand your point of view. Once you get in the habit of reframing, you’ll start to notice that it comes more naturally to you. Yes, a mindset can become a habit!
Positivity is power
I love reframing to help my clients feel empowered. When the lightbulb turns on in my clients’ mind and she realizes she has more power in a situation than she previously thought, I consider that a huge win. Essentially choosing positive thought through reframing allows us to step into our personal power. Rather than being victim to whatever life throws at you, you are actively creating the experience YOU want.