What is Optimistic Re-Framing
Optimistic re-framing is all about changing your beliefs/stories. Neuroscience tells us that we CAN change.
Our active beliefs cause our emotional sates and those play out in our bodies. Our beliefs, emotions and body sensations together make up our FEELINGS. Our feelings drive our decisions and that influences our actions. If you want to act or feel more balanced then you must change the stories/beliefs that you say to yourself to something more balanced. Our beliefs/stories can be difficult to fully know. They can be very automatic and sub-conscious. Mindfulness allows us to sit and investigate our bodies, emotions and thoughts/images to gain insight into our beliefs/stories. Knowing them in great detail allows us to change them to something different, something more balanced.
Optimistic Re-Framing is a general competency term that we use to describe the process that allows us to change our beliefs or shift our attention to a belief (interpretation of what is happening around us or within us) to something more reasonable. When we start to shift our beliefs away from the exaggerated, inaccurate and negative views we shift how we feel about ourselves and our lives. This shift then allows us to be more confident, become better leaders, we trust ourselves and our abilities and thus reduces fear and anxiety. Ultimately when we shift our self views to something more balanced, we thrive.
The skill of noticing what beliefs are active at any given moment is called Mindfulness and shifting or redirecting these beliefs to something more realistic is called Optimistic Re-Framing. There are a number of exercises that one can do to help notice and then change these beliefs – even the automatic and subconscious ones. When our skill level increases with practice we will then begin to notice that our ability to bounce back (regain balance) from challenge or change increases. This is what resiliency is and it is a trainable skill.
Cross-Train Your Brain
There are many exercises that one can do to start your brain generating Optimistic beliefs/thoughts automatically. Each is valid in it’s own right however you may find that some are better suited for you at this moment in time.
An athlete uses various exercises to cross train their muscles and you can do the same with training your brain. These exercises are your component exercises that you can use. We all can become accustomed to doing the same things over and over again whereby we do not pay attention to our routines anymore. Changing up your routine keeps it fresh and interesting and you keep progressing forward.
This is the CRITICAL step that very few people talk about and yet it is 100% necessary.
Regularity and consistency is the key to success. Conduct these exercises on a regular basis and you will be amazed at how effective they really are! Be gentle with yourself as you progress. There may be days that you think you have reverted to your old habits – rest assured that you have not. It is completely normal to revisit some issues that you thought you got rid of. You likely did not regress as far as you were nor did you stay in the negative mood for an extended period of time like you used to.
When you start on your path to thinking better, you are on the path to change your beliefs, beliefs that you have likely had for many years. It may take time to change these deep rooted beliefs. When you start to change your negative thinking to more Optimistic thinking (I call this moving up the Optimistic ladder) notice if you are not “buying in” to these new ways of thinking. When you try to move too far up the Optimistic ladder too quickly, in one step, you may trigger a thought of “ya right – that’s not true”. This is your dismissal mechanism kicking in. When this happens to you, then dial back the level of Optimism. Reach for a new thought that is not as high up the ladder.
If for example you are not feeling attractive, then reach for a thought referring to something that you do find attractive in your appearance. Perhaps you like your lips or your ears or your arms etc… Once you are focusing on those things that ARE attractive to you, you will then have room for improved thoughts of “I have many attractive qualities” etc… Eventually you will end up with new beliefs such as “I AM attractive to some people” to “I AM attractive to many people” finally ending up with “I AM attractive … both inside and out!”
Don’t just stop when you are feeling a little better – keep going and you will feel better and better every day!
Here are some exercises that you can do on a daily basis…