Janet's Blog

Reframing – It’s All How You Look at It

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By Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Original article

Reframing Your MindHave you ever noticed that two people can face the same situation and one person can describe the situation as a harrowing ordeal while another sees it as a minor inconvenience? Or have you had one of those days when it seems that everything is going wrong–until you hear someone else’s troubles that make yours pale in comparison, showing you that your stressors really aren’t so bad? Have you faced a challenge in your life that initially seemed like a negative event, but that eventually brought gifts and gains that cause you to look back on the event as positive? These situations all involve a phenomenon that psychologists refer to as ‘reframing’.

What Is Reframing?

Reframing is a way of changing the way you look at something and, thus, changing your experience of it. Reframing can turn a stressful event into either a major trauma or a challenge to be bravely overcome. Reframing can depict a really bad day as a mildly low point in an overall wonderful life. Reframing can see a negative event as a learning experience. Reframing is a way that we can alter our perceptions of stressors and, thus, relieve significant amounts of stress and create a more positive life before actually making any changes in our circumstances.

How Does Reframing Affect Stress?

Using reframing techniques can actually change your physical responses to stress because your body’s stress response is triggered by perceived stress, not actual events. If you perceive that you are threatened–physically or psychologically–by a situation, your fight-or-flight response will kick in. Your stress response can be triggered by events ranging from annoying to frightening, and can remain triggered long after the triggering event has passed, especially if you’re not practicing relaxation techniques. Reframing techniques are a way of minimizing the stressors you perceive in your life, thus easing the process of relaxation.

How Does Reframing Work?

Using reframing techniques can be simple and easy, especially with practice.

  1. Learn About Thinking Patterns. The first step in reframing is to educate yourself about some of these negative thinking patterns that may exacerbate your stress levels. See these common cognitive distortions to see which ones, if any, may come into play in your life. Also, read about negative explanatory styles to learn the particular way that pessimists view their life experiences; since pessimists tend to experience more stress and less success than do optimists, it’s important to understand how they think, and work to adopt a positive explanatory style instead. Educating yourself about thinking patterns and how they affect people is important for laying the groundwork for understanding and change.
  2. Notice Your Thoughts. The next step is to catch yourself when you’re slipping into overly negative and stress-inducing patterns of thinking. Being aware of them is an important part of challenging and ultimately changing them. One thing you can do is just become more mindful of your thoughts, as though you’re an observer. When you catch negative thinking styles, just note them at first. If you want, you can even keep a journal and start recording what’s happening in your life and your thoughts surrounding these events, and then examine these thoughts through your new ‘lens’ to get more practice in catching these thoughts. Another helpful practice is meditation, where you learn to quiet your mind and examine your thoughts. Once you become more of an observer, it’s easier to notice your thoughts rather than remaining caught up in them.
  3. Challenge Your Thoughts. As you notice your negative thoughts, an effective part of reframing involves examining the truth and accuracy (or lack thereof) of these thoughts. Are the things you’re telling yourself even true? Also, what are some other ways to interpret the same set of events? Which ways of seeing things serve you better? Instead of seeing things the way you always have, challenge every negative thought, and see if you can adopt thoughts that fit your situation but reflect a more positive outlook.
  4. Replace Your Thoughts With More Positive Thoughts Have you even been to a hospital and noticed that the nurses often ask people about their ‘discomfort’ rather than their ‘pain’? That’s reframing in action. If the patient is in searing pain, the term ‘discomfort’ becomes annoying and seems to reflect a disconnect in understanding, but if the pain is mild, reframing it as ‘discomfort’ can actually minimize the experience of pain for many patients. This is a useful reframing trick that we can all put into practice. When you’re looking at something negative, see if you can change your self talk to use less strong, less negative emotions. When you’re looking at a potentially stressful situation, see if you can view it as a challenge vs. a threat. Look for the ‘gift’ in each situation, and see if you can see your stressors on the more positive edge of reality: see them in a way that still fits the facts of your situation, but that is less negative and more optimistic and positive.

That’s the gist of reframing, and you can do it as often as you’d like. Most people are surprised at what a big impact reframing can have on their experience of stress–changing the way you look at your life can truly change your life

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The Power Of The Subconscious Mind

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Power of the Subconscious MindThe magic of positive thinking is real. Adopting behaviors like positive self talk and daily positive affirmations can change the brain’s structure and ultimately influence the subconscious mind.

So how does the power of positive thinking work its magic in your mind? Together, the conscious and subconscious minds direct the show that is your life. So altering their function will lead to new and different ways of being. Let’s begin with a few definitions:

The Subconscious Mind: It’s worth noting that the “subconscious mind” I’m speaking of, is what Freud called the “unconscious mind”. There is no subconscious mind in psychoanalysis. It is more of a new age, self development term.

So when referring to the subconscious mind, I’m talking about that part of the mind that stores feelings, perceptions, complexes, beliefs and desires that are all outside of our conscious awareness, yet have a powerful influence over the actions and behaviors we take in every moment.

The unconscious mind is associated with the dreaming, reflecting, meditating and sleeping state. It is intuitive, easily making associations and connections between thoughts, ideas and feelings. It does your perceiving and feeling.

The Conscious Mind: The conscious mind is the antithesis of the subconscious mind. It does all of your intellectual thinking.

It’s the part of your mind responsible for your self-talk, the endless stream of mind chatter that can on occasion almost send you crazy. The conscious mind likes logical order and sequential information. It likes things to make sense, to have reason. At any one time, the conscious mind can manage awareness of about seven or eight bits of information.

While we like to think we have conscious control over what we attract, what we do in life, and how we behave, the truth is, the subconscious has most of the control. So when you aren’t attracting what you want in life, it’s an indication that unconsciously you have low

expectations for yourself. Even if on a conscious level you make every effort to achieve something, unless your unconscious carries synergistic expectations, then it will be difficult to achieve.

expectations for yourself. Even if on a conscious level you make every effort to achieve something, unless your unconscious carries synergistic expectations, then it will be difficult to achieve.

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The Magic Of Positive Thinking: Programming The Subconscious Mind

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positive thinkingFollow these steps to help with unleashing your mind’s power using the power of your thoughts:

  1. Become aware of your negative programming and beliefs. For example, perhaps growing up you were teased (as so many kids are) about a facial feature or your sports ability. And now, no matter what you do, you cannot see yourself as anything but ugly or anything but a klutz. In each of these cases, the negative beliefs you want to reprogram are “I am ugly” and “I am a klutz”.
  2. Activate the power of positive thinking: start feeding your conscious mind with new beliefs. At this stage, it’s not important that you agree with your new belief, what’s important is that it’s motivating to you and you’d like to believe it to be true. So in each case, the new beliefs you would want to instill in yourself are “I am truly beautiful, inside and out” and “I am good at sports/I am comfortable in my body”.
  3. Continue feeding your mind stimulus that aligns with these statements. Meditation (especially binaural brain beat meditations like The Morry Method System and hypnosis are like super vitamins at this. They help you achieve a relaxed state where its much easier to accept and integrate positive self talk. You can also incorporate positive daily affirmations and visualization exercises to help make change more rapid. Overtime, as you keep feeding yourself new positive stimulus the negative thoughts you’ve become so used to hearing will become quieter.

Through repeated exposure to your new beliefs, you will start to change your perception of yourself in these areas. At first you’ll notice the change in small things. Perhaps you’ll decide to take up a sport or if you’re belief was that you are ugly, perhaps you’ll notice that you suddenly feel more sexy and confident and you might start to dress differently to reflect this.

The main point to remember is that you can practice the magic of positive thinking in your life by controlling what thoughts you focus on. It’s not an over claim to say that positive thinking is one of the best self help solutions available. It can do wonders for your life.

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Positive Thinking Power – The Rice Experiment

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More Evidence From Dr Masaru Emoto On The Power Of Thoughts

The Rice ExperimentMost people agree that positive thinking has power. But just how much power is debatable.

Masaru Emoto, a researcher and alternative healer from Japan has given the world a good deal of evidence of the magic of positive thinking.

You may have heard of Dr Emoto. He became famous when his water molecule experiments featured in the 2004 film, What The Bleep Do We Know?

His experiments demonstrate that human thoughts and intentions can alter physical reality, in this case the molecular structure of water. Given that humans are comprised of at least 60% water, his discovery has far reaching implications… can anyone really afford to have negative thoughts or intentions?

Positive Thinking Power: Dr Emoto’s Rice Experiment

The rice experiment is another famous Emoto demonstration of the power of negative thinking (and conversely, the power of positive thinking.)

In this experiment, Dr Emoto placed portions of cooked rice into two containers. On one container he wrote “thank you” and on the other “you fool”. He then instructed school children to say the labels on the jars out loud everyday when they passed them by. Aftr 30 days, the rice in the container with positive thoughts had barely changed, while the other was moldy and rotten.

If you have any doubt in the validity of this test, try it at home for yourself. Be sure to spend at least 30 seconds, twice a day consciously intending negative thoughts or positive thoughts at the respective containers of rice. And make sure you use cooked rice, as its water content is what produces the results.

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Troubled and Traumatic Childhood

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traumatic childhoodI have found in my practice that besides unwanted habits and behaviors there are those clients with a history of a traumatic and troubled childhood.

The effects of poor parental skills, divorce and alcoholism take their toll on children. As a result clients present with adult relationship issues, self sabotage, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, lack of confidence and self worth.

I can’t help but think how different lives would be if parenting skills were taught and practiced.

I watched a television show on Lifetime called “ America’s SuperNanny”. It is a reality documentary TV series.

Deborah Tillman , host and child care specialist  lives with families for one week that have requested her help and guidance with raising their children, she experiences the challenges and issues of each family. In that one week she comes to the rescue, gets to the heart of the problems and instructs the parents and children though mealtime behavior, temper tantrums, bedtime problems with positive discipline. Deborah teaches parents how to parent She teaches them skills from a firm but loving philosophy. It is amazing to watch the transformation from chaos, to bonding, and connecting.

In one episode a parent was giving her kids melatonin at bed time to help them sleep. Deborah intercepted that practice and helped the kids calm down at bed time by having them listen to soothing rainforest sounds, it worked like a charm. This idea is near and dear to my heart, having written and spoken relaxation CDs for children with soothing sounds and music. Deborah and I are definitely on the same page.

Janet Montgomery‘s latest CD for children and their parents is called Sleep Well for Kids


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