We are all doing the best we can with the resources we are aware of or have access to. Negativity (i.e.. negative emotions, unhealthy habits, tension, conflict, symptoms, disease) often comes from a build-up of unprocessed stress, perceived threats (real or imagined), unconscious negative core beliefs, toxins, and/or unmet needs. You need to take time to process, nurture yourself, and send positive messages to your body, mind, heart, and relationships in order to connect and heal.
Here are five steps to a Positive Reframe:
Put your hand on your heart and breathe deeply. Notice the breath enter your nose and fill up your body as far as your breath can reach, then breathe slowly out through your mouth as long as you comfortably can. Notice the pressure of your hand on your heart and the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. There is no wrong or right here. Your brain and body are working to protect you, so it is normal to still have thoughts or urges to distract you. Keep focusing on your breath. Repeat at least three times as needed. Breathing is like pressing the reset for your central nervous system getting oxygen to all your cells, calming you down, connecting to your heart and body whilst empowering your wise mind. Your breath is also the only automatic nervous system function that you can control. Click here to see a breathing exercise video I made.
2. Give yourself permission
Give yourself permission to just be and feel whatever you are experiencing with compassion, non-judgment, and curiosity.
Notice what are you feeling? … angry, afraid, sad, frustrated, embarrassed, conflicted, confused, hurt, mistrusted, insecure etc…
Notice sensations in your body, where do you feel tight or heavy? cold or hot? shaky or stiff? http://www.new-synapse.com/aps/wordpress/?p=63
What are you needing?…safety, honesty, connection, support, understanding, trust, security etc… Here is a link to the Non-Violent Communication NVC Feelings and Needs shortlist
All feelings and needs are valid. Even though thoughts and emotions seem very real, they are not always true. Give yourself permission to step back, take a break or say “No.” Listen to your heart and do what feels right for you at that moment.
We need to take time to consciously & actively PROCESS negativity. Too often we get used to relying on our default defense mechanisms, we ignore, dismiss, avoid, run, hide, blame, fight, or numb ourselves…Negative events, feelings, & thoughts then accumulate affecting every part of our life. Find safe ways to reflect on and process your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and events… like what happened right before feeling a wave of emotions and disturbance? Did you notice any stress signals in your body before your reaction? What reoccurring thoughts or feelings keep coming up? What is the earliest memory you have of a similar event, or feeling this way or thinking these thoughts? What is this part of you most afraid of? What needs do you wish were met then to feel seen, safe, soothed, and secure? What do you want to believe about yourself now?
Engage in an activity that lets you process as well as creates a sense of movement and feedback like talking with someone you trust, going for a walk, journaling, feel your heart beating, hugging a friend, painting, playing music, dancing, exercising… the list is endless and unique to each individual.
If you do not have time to fully process a triggering event, disturbing emotions, or thoughts, at the very least, visualize putting them in some sort of imaginary container (i.e., treasure, chest, suitcase, jar), then put your hand on your heart and take at least three deep breaths. Or you can visualize your favorite place to be where you feel most safe, happy, and free to be you. Go through all your senses while visualizing this place…What do you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste?
If still feeling too overwhelmed (unable to calm down or focus) do a neurovascular hold by placing one palm of your hand on your forehead and the other palm of the hand at the base of your neck, take more deep breaths and hold for 3-5 minutes.
4. Affirm* what is or you wish to be true
Take time to visualize and feel what you wish to be experiencing. Was there a time when what you are wishing for did happen? Notice how good and true it feels. What positive beliefs come to mind? You can also create personal affirmation statements in the present tense about your abilities, intentions, and desired outcomes. Repeat affirmation statements on a regular basis especially when under stress and triggered.
“A good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense, it’s visual, and it’s emotional.” ~ Stephen Covey
“I can handle this.”
“I choose to make positive healthy choices for myself and/or family.”
“I chose a supportive partner and we are both willing to work towards our shared goals.”
“I can help my kids feel safe by being present and responsive to their needs.”
“I can find a way to express myself and get my needs met.”
Click here for an example of my personal affirmations…
*Initially, saying affirmations may feel awkward or uncomfortable or untrue. I have found that the more uncomfortable it feels, then the more likely this is an area that needs our attention. You may still try it out or create a new one that feels more comfortable and truer to you.
5. Express Gratitude
Yes, life is filled with uncertainty and negativity, yet I have found that difficult times have immense value in our lives and create opportunities. It is easier to see the bright side when your suffering has been genuinely acknowledged and processed fully which can be achieved through the first four steps*. If you’re struggling to find anything to be grateful for, then go back through the steps. Take time to discover ways to appreciate the hidden value for yourself, loved ones, job, or current stressor. For example, getting sick gives you an opportunity to stay in bed and rest which you may not have weaved rest time into your life. Focus your attention on what you feel blessed for and what you want more of like what brings you feelings of joy, peace, connection, and clarity. This becomes more beneficial practiced daily.
I believe that we are all born inherently good and connected to our innate intelligence which is love-based. Those who seem “bad” have more pain to heal, toxins and stressors to process, and vital needs to meet. We often have good intentions, yet we are unconsciously thwarted by our internal suffering, unprocessed toxins, our fears, and negative reactions. Every interaction is an opportunity to nurture, heal, and grow.
*There are many ways to process negativity like some sort of movement, touch, writing, talking and so on. The key is to discover which ways help your unique central nervous system and spirit to feel seen, safe, soothed & secure in that moment specific to the context and your history, and to provide these for yourself as consistently and rhymical as humanly possible.
Take wonderful care of yourself as the world needs you. ❤ Debra
Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA
3 thoughts on “Five steps to a Positive Reframe”
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This is such great information. Thank you!