Five steps to a Positive Reframe

We are all doing the best we can with the resources we are aware of or have access to. Negativity (ie. 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:

1. Breathe

Take a deep breath, preferably in through your nose (3-4 seconds) and out of your mouth (5-8 seconds), repeat 3 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?

What are you needing?…safety, honesty, connection, support, understanding, trust, security etc… Here is a link to 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 in that moment.

3. Process

We need to take time to consciously & actively PROCESS negativity. Too often we get use 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 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 needs do you wish were met then or what do you want to believe about yourself now?

Engage in an activity that lets you process as well as creates a sense movement and feedback like talking with someone you trust, go for a walk, journaling, feel your heart beating, hug a friend, paint, play music, dance, exercise… the list is endless and unique to each individual.

If you do not have time to fully process 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 leat three deep breaths. Or you can visualize your favorite place to be like 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, taste?

If still feeling too overwhelmed (unable to calm down or focus) do a neurovascular hold by placing one palm of hand on your forehead and the other palm of the hand at the base of your neck and take more deep breaths and holding for 3-5 munites.

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 wanting did happen? Notice how good and true it feels. What positive thoughts came 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…

all is well quote meme

*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. I suggest to still try saying it or create a new one that feels more comfortable and appropriate.

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 are achieved through the first four steps. If your 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 have good intentions yet we are often thwarted by our internal suffering, unprocessed toxins, our fears, and negative reactions. Every interaction is an opportunity to nurture, heal, and grow. Take wonderful care of yourself as the world needs you. ❤ Debra

If you’d like support, clients can find me at



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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