How to be more positive in these unsettling times? How can you increase your courage and resilience to fight against the odds? Read on to know about the positive reframe – the one mental shift that will help you live a happier life.
Part of Kathy Caprino’s series “The Most Powerful You”
I was speaking recently to a client who is struggling intensely with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on her life. The changes she’s been forced to make have been extremely difficult to navigate, and include needing to refocus so much of her time to help her three young children with their remote schooling and managing their time while struggling in her chaotic, high-pressure job. This job has become unsustainable given her company’s poor leadership and lack of organization and systematized workflow. On top of all that, she is facing the fear and trauma of trying to support her 89-year-old father who now has Covid-19 but is many states away and all alone.
In times like these, our mental capabilities and the strength we possess internally, become far more apparent. When a crisis hits, and when we’re faced with deep challenges that we haven’t been trained to deal with, how well do we do?
Do we fall into a deep depression, unable to get out of bed, or are we able to face the challenges head on, with strength, positivity, and resilience? For most of us, it’s almost always somewhere in between—we might have good days when the sun is shining, things are looking up and we feel we’re able to tackle what’s in front of us. But on other days, we find ourselves slipping into despair and hopelessness.
Related: 5 Lessons That This Crisis Taught Us
Years ago, after leaving a very unhappy corporate life behind, I embarked on a three-year training process and Master’s degree as a marriage and family therapist and later co-founded a therapeutic practice. When I look back on that training and experience, what I learned and how it changed my life, I’m forever grateful for all the challenges that led me to leave my corporate identity behind and make that change, although at times it was very tough.
Of all the therapeutic concepts and strategies I learned during that time, there have been several approaches that have been true game-changers for me and now my clients. One approach that stands out as particularly helpful in fear-inducing and challenging times is the positive reframe.
The positive reframe
Simply put, the positive reframe is a way to look at the experiences and situations of your life in a realistic way that fits the facts well, while at the same time allowing yourself to see greater possibility, positivity, hope, control and expansion in what is happening and what has transpired.
The reframe shifts your “frame” of reference and helps you see your current situation differently so that you can recognize—and act on—new positive opportunities and changes that are possible. And it focuses on what you can control, not everything that is outside of your sphere of influence.
Instead of doubling down only on the dark and terrible about what has transpired, and what you’ve lost, the positive reframe lets you recognize—and believe in—the potential future benefits from what has happened. And it helps you focus on what you can take action on that makes you feel less powerless.
As an example, another client of mine who recently reached out for career change help, shared that she has been mistreated and disrespected in her job for many years, but the pace of the job was such that she felt that she could never carve out the time to do the work of getting a better job or changing her career.