Reframing: change your mindset to change your results

Reframing is a technique used to adjust your mindset so you’re able to look at a situation, person, or relationship from a slightly different perspective. It’s widely used in coaching, but also in more therapeutic relationships.

The idea behind reframing is the following; when a person experiences a situation, s/he views it through a specific frame. In other words, this frame is this person’s point of view. When that frame changes, the meaning also changes, and so do thinking and behavior.

Reframing is used when a repetitive negative pattern is identified. It is helpful in conditions of anxiety, stress, low self-esteem or in relationship issues and it can improve our overall mental well-being.

How can you identify if you follow negative patterns?

Some common cognitive distortions and negative patterns of thinking or believing, include:

  • All or nothing thinking: Seeing situations as black or white.
  • Generalizations: Putting everyone/ everything under one umbrella.
  • Blaming: Blaming other people/ situations for your own mistakes or attributing complex problems to a single cause.
  • Catastrophizing: Always imagining the worst-case scenario that could happen.
  • Negative focus: Focusing only on the negatives and ignoring the positives.
  • High expectations: Feeling like you should have done better in each situation.

How can we shift these negative patterns in business and life coaching?

During a coaching relationship, we frequently practise reframing techniques. As Coaches, we help our Clients to step out of the problem or the lens through they experience a situation and support them to widen their perspective with questions like:

  • “Is there another way to look at this situation?”
  • “What are some other possible reasons this could have happened?”
  • “Are there things or explanations that you have not considered?”
  • “What positive thing came out of this experience”?
  • “What did you learn from what happened?”

Another way we face these negative patterns in coaching is by examining the evidence for your interpretation of a situation. This involves examining the assumptions you are making about yourself or about other people. For example:

  • “I’m terrible in communication.” – Who says that? How do you know? What evidence you have to support this statement? Are there any situations in the past that proved you that this is not true?
  • “I’m always thinking the worst-case scenario, so I can be better prepared.” – What is the evidence that this outcome will happen? Every time you thought of a negative outcome, what did it actually happen? All these negative scenarios you have had, how often they turned out to be true?

It’s important to clarify with our Clients that thoughts aren’t facts. There are specific biases that usually led to our interpretations and have shaped our perspectives. It’s essential to practise how these perspectives can be shifted and how to install new, positive and useful ones.

Also, in cases of stress, it’s key to focus on what we CAN control. It’s pointless to get overwhelmed by things outside of our control.

The benefits that can occur via reframing and restructuring techniques are:

  • You can become more positive and resilient when challenges arise.
  • By assessing alternatives, you can start seeing things from a different view.
  • You can validate your emotions and practice self-compassion.
  • You can develop a healthier mindset and initiate a positive self-talk.
  • You can experience less burnout.
  • You can enhance your communication skills.
  • You can have an overall better quality of life.

Cognitive reframing, whether it is practiced independently or with the help of an expert, it can be a helpful way to turn problems and negative thoughts into opportunities for positive change and growth.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

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