When Life Gives You Lemons – Reframe Your Thoughts
When bad things happen in life, it’s natural for our minds to go to the negative, but it’s important to remember that we can reframe our thinking and look at things in a way that supports momentum. The ability to reframe our thoughts and find optimism takes work, but it’s possible with a few simple steps.
Just Notice. The first step in reframing a situation that may trigger negative thoughts is noticing it’s happening in the first place.
What is the conversation you are having in your head? Especially to something you are anticipating. Is your self-talk helpful? Once you can capture the thoughts that are not, you can begin to capture those lemons and reframe them into something more practical and productive to you.
Look for Unhelpful Thought Styles. We all have default thinking styles that show up occasionally, like seeing the worst in a situation or minimizing your success. When you know those unhelpful thinking patterns, you can notice them faster and challenge them. For example, if we find ourselves engaging in negative self-talk, we can reframe those thoughts and focus on more positive and realistic interpretations of the situation.
For example, in a relationship, if the thought pops up, “If my partner doesn’t agree with me on this, then they must not love me.” This type of thinking ignores the complexities often present in relationships and the things that are going well, quickly triggering frustration, disappointment, and resentment.
What if, instead, we considered the other possibilities and changed that thought to something like, “my partner may not see eye to eye on this with me, but I know they are willing to listen and engage with me, which is a sign of their love and commitment to our relationship.” How does that sound instead? How does it compare to the first thought?
Keep A Gratitude Journal. One powerful technique is gratitude. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we shift our attention away from negative thoughts and experiences and teach our brains to search for the positive. This can help us feel more optimistic about the future, even under challenging circumstances.
Take a few moments daily to identify 2-3 things you’re grateful for. It could improve your overall happiness.
Avoid Worst-Case Scenario Thinking. Everything isn’t going to have a horrible outcome. Instead of imagining what that can be, focus on the present moment and take things one step at a time. This can help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions.
Cultivate your people! Surrounding yourself with the right people can make a big difference in staying optimistic and motivated. Having supportive friends and family members willing to listen and offer encouragement can help us feel less alone, seen, understood, and focused. If you can’t find positive people to draw from or feel like negative only follows you- reframe your thoughts! Don’t be afraid to look for the connections you need in your life in the form of mentors, joining associations, or partnering with like-minded groups. You can cultivate your people!
Let me know which approach you need to embrace more often in the comments below.
RSVP for the Renew Connect Restore info session on 5/20/23 at 4:30 PM EST here: https://bit.ly/Info2p3
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Mental Health consultant. She works in partnership with organizations and institutions like schools and corporations to assess an organization’s emotional health, designing customized mental health and wellness workshops to help teams navigate stress, burnout, and trauma so they can thrive well.