Question: Can you help me change my experiences by reframing my beliefs and thoughts?
Research shows that pessimists experience much higher stress levels and achieve less success than optimists. Even if you are a glass-half-empty person, you can change your outlook in some key ways without changing your unique and special soul! Reframing your beliefs sounds hard, but it starts with reframing your thoughts, which may seem a more accessible concept. There are many benefits of learning to reframe thoughts:
✓ Discovering your limiting beliefs and re-writing them will enable you to achieve goals that have been out of reach.
✓ Interpreting a situation differently allows you to create new meaning which is hugely liberating. (Think of a personal example: a break-up or job loss, maybe. If you could find meaning in that experience other than “I’m a loser” or “I have crappy luck,” imagine the possibilities.)
✓ Understanding that every negative thought started with a positive intention will increase your self-confidence (not to mention help you understand and be kind to yourself). You don’t have to turn a mistake into a learning experience—all you have to do is realize that it is one.
✓ Opening your mind to possibilities is a much more fruitful approach than closing it with (a false belief in) limitations. “I can’t do that,” results in one thing–you don’t even try. “I can do that,” might result in failure, at first, but gosh, if Thomas Edison said “I can’t do that” I’d be writing this blog by candlelight.
✓ Reframing thoughts and beliefs gives us hope, and a better perspective on ourselves and the world.
You might ask: “Okay, so how do I reframe my thoughts?”
- Discover your limiting beliefs. Be an observer of your own thinking. This requires vigilance, but it can be kind of fun if you keep your sense of humor. Say, “Gotcha!” every time you catch yourself driving on the rutted road of tired old negative thoughts. Ask yourself, does this idea limit me, hold me back, mess with my mojo?
- Challenge the thought. Once you’ve caught yourself in the act (and said, “Gotcha”), ask yourself, “Is this really true?” Then ask yourself: “How can I look at this from a different perspective? Is this situation a real threat? What can I learn? What are some solutions? What am I assuming?”
- Replace the negative thought with a positive thought. When thinking about something that has happened, look for the gift in the situation. When pondering your next move, tell yourself “I can” not “I can’t.” Don’t wonder “Why me?” Instead say, “Yes me!” But also, don’t beat yourself up for having negative thoughts. Look for the initial positive intention and work with that. Use kinder words to reframe it. E.g., instead of “right” or “wrong” use “useful” or “not so useful.”
Reframing your beliefs does not mean you deny reality or pretend sad is happy or bad is good. It’s about perspective. If you are turned down for a second date (sad), you can think, “I’m a reject” or “Men/women are shallow” (both very negative) or you can think, “What I have to offer does not work for him/her at the moment” or “His/her decision is not about me; I know I’m worthy.”
There is a technique I use in my coaching that works very well. Starting with the three steps above, you:
→ Discover your limiting beliefs (you can ask a friend, coach, mentor to help you with this).
→ Rewrite them—literally on a piece of paper. Transform the belief before you write it down. (You don’t want to reinforce the negative belief by committing it to paper.) “I am not worthy” is transformed to “I am worthy” and written down. “Dating is stupid and pointless” becomes “I will enjoy dating until I find my match.” And you write it down. “Men/women can’t be trusted” is reframed as “There is a wonderful man/woman out there for me.” Committed to paper—your list of reframed beliefs.
→ Say them. Out loud. For 30 consecutive days. (And if you are the overachiever type, say them twice a day, especially just as you wake up or are falling asleep when your brain is most receptive.)
→ And here’s where I am quite the taskmaster. If you miss a day, you have to start over from the beginning!
Why does this work? This regimen literally reprograms the brain and is based solidly in science. NASA and other highly reputable research agencies have confirmed again and again that new neural pathways can be created in the brain through such means as simulation, imagination, repetition, and affirmation. If you think of your limiting beliefs as having created grooves in the road you travel, then you can change where you drive on that road, thus creating new tire tracks which begin to define your path in a totally new way.
Reframing your beliefs about anything—but for our purposes, about romance, dating, and relationships—can transform you from feeling powerless to being powerful within your own life. The frogs on the lily pad will suddenly appear as the princes (or princesses) they really are when you reframe the way you see, think, and believe.
If you want to know more, contact me for a complimentary session. I would love to help out!