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), toxins and/or unmet needs. You need to take a 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. 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 without judgment.  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…

nvc feelings needs

All emotions 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.

3. Process

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?

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 fullying process triggering event, disturbing emotions or thoughts, at the very least, visualize putting them in some sort of imaginary container (i.e. chest, suitcase, jar), then do a neurovascular hold by placing one palm of hand on forehead and the other palm of hand behind lower part of your head while taking 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. 


“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 peace.” 

“I can help my kids feel safe.” 

“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 so don’t skip the first four 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 personally 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, 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, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state Illinois, USA

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