8. Practice reappraisal while streaming movies.
If you’re having a hard time finding the silver linings in your own life, it might be easier to practice this with other people’s lives. To use others’ experiences to practice reappraisal, plan to practice the next time you stream a movie or show.
Before watching a sad or emotional movie or scene, read these instructions:
While watching the scene or movie, think about what could be learned from the experience, or imagine possible positive outcomes. With these suggestions in mind, think about what advice you would give the characters for how to feel better.
Now ask yourself, how could you apply this advice to your own life? Might these same reappraisals work for you next time you are feeling sad, anxious, or angry?
9. Find the benefits in life.
Benefit finding is similar to reappraisal, but it can be used in negative, neutral, or positive situations. For example, you might say that the benefits of working a really difficult job are that you learn new skills and build character.
But you might also say that the benefits of working a really easy job are that you feel relaxed and have more time to devote to other things you enjoy. With some practice, you can find the benefits to just about any situation.
To practice finding the benefits, first, think about a slightly negative experience you had recently. Try not to choose an experience that is extremely negative — it’s important to choose an experience that’s not too bad when you are first learning how to use this technique.
You can work up to harder experiences as you become more skilled. For example, maybe your car broke down, or you got in a small fight with a friend.
I know that at first, it can seem impossible to find the benefits of these situations. So let me help you out a bit more with some examples from my life. A few years ago, my car’s transmission blew completely. I immediately felt grateful that I wasn’t driving on the freeway when it happened, especially since I spend about 10 hours per week commuting. I was so happy that my car retained 3rd gear, so I didn’t have to get it towed. And my husband was in the car with me, so I was glad he was able to help me get it to an auto shop that same day.
If I had wanted to, I could have focused on the negative things about this experience — it cost about $2,000 to fix, it happened as part of a string of repairs on that car, I desperately needed that car to get to work, and money was really tight. But rather than focusing on these aspects, I had trained my brain to focus on the positive. As a result, I handled this challenge quickly and easily and got on with my life.
Now it’s your turn to try. It’s okay if this is hard at first. Just like any other skill, it takes practice. Start by spending a few minutes thinking about the benefits of a negative experience. Try to really search for as many benefits as you can think of.
Ask yourself these questions to brainstorm:
- Were there, or will there be, any positive outcomes that result from this situation?
- Are you grateful for any part of this situation?
- In what ways are you better off than when you started?
- What did you learn?
- How did you grow and develop as a result of this situation?
You can practice this on social media. If you post about a negative experience, add at least one benefit to your post.