What do you think of when you see the words “positive psychology”?
You most likely imagine someone passionately explaining that a simple smile is all you need to fix all your issues.
Sadly, we all know that’s not true - the world is a much more complex place, which doesn’t rely on a simple solution to switch everything up.
What if we told you that positive psychology doesn’t actually preach this idealized version of the world?
On the contrary, it acknowledges that each individual is different and that solutions are never innately simple.
Here we talk about one of the most common methods in positive psychology, which anyone in any situation can use without lessening or glossing over the actual issue.
What Is Reframing?
The method in question is called the “Reframing method.”
The concept consists of two parts - a “negative” part of a sentence and a “positive” finish of that same line.
For example, the sentence “Even though I didn’t finish all of my assignments for the day, I managed to do most of them and had time to spend with my family.” is the reframing method at work.
We will break the two parts of it down to explain each in more detail.
The first is the “negative” aspect.
Its job is to acknowledge that there is an issue, that the “bad” thing that made us feel in a way we don’t like did indeed happen.
It's important to understand that this part is just as vital as the second one.
A key point in positive psychology is understanding the initial problem so that the solution matches.
This is why this first negative part of the sentence is essential - it acknowledges the problem itself.
Here we come to the second aspect.
The purpose of ending the sentence on a positive note is to refocus our brains regarding the situation.
Studies show that a lot of the time, we remember the last part of a sentence or a conversation the best.
This is why we should put the optimistic aspect of the sentence at the end.
By organizing our thoughts like this, we are slowly teaching our brains to have a brighter general outlook.
The other important reason we put the positive last is that it makes us appreciate different aspects of the same situation.
When we are facing something negative, we often tend to spiral down and focus only on those emotions and actions, sometimes completely disregarding the entirety of the situation.
By making our brains come up with a positive end to a seemingly negative sentence, we start searching for and recognizing positive parts of the situation we might not have thought of before.
Why Is It Useful?
Positive reframing helps in a myriad of situations.
Mainly and most importantly, it changes the perspective.
A negative situation can instead be seen as an opportunity for transformation and improvement thanks to this tool.
By asking questions that point to a more optimistic view of a situation, the chances of finding such answers are way higher than when we use negative questions.
Not only that, but this is an excellent method to search for alternate solutions to almost any issue.
Another good aspect of this method is that it acknowledges all parts of the situation, thus validating the emotions we feel about it.
We, therefore, automatically feel in a safer space and are willing to share more.
On a final note, positive reframing helps us see some of the patterns we might have adopted.
Limiting our view when searching for the positive sides, blowing things out of proportion, and deeming certain things as mandatory or inevitable are all thought patterns we can spot using this method.
And once we know they exist, it’s much easier to work on improving them.
Positive reframing may initially sound like a parlor trick, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
It is a proven methodology that helps us refocus our attention in challenging situations.
By using positive reframing, it is very likely for our worldviews to be more positive and not to feel helpless when facing a challenge.
And the best part of it is that we can practice every day!