How to Reframe Negative Thoughts

Do you constantly criticize yourself?

Even though humans are evolutionarily hardwired to survive on the what-ifs, worries, and caution, having your worldview mired by negative thoughts can be incredibly exhausting for your body and spirit. In addition, being overly self-critical can have a detrimental effect on your mental and physical health.

When you constantly repeat negative thoughts, you start believing those things about yourself. And ultimately, you start having experiences and finding yourself in situations that reinforce those beliefs. So it’s a self-perpetuating cycle that can be incredibly difficult to overcome. 

But you can detangle yourself from destructive negative thoughts. It starts by understanding that even though you can’t always control what happens to you, you can control how you frame these situations. So, let’s dig deeper and see how you can reframe negative thoughts to lead a more fulfilling life.

1. It All Starts With Awareness

The human mind can run through thousands of thoughts in a day. You may not notice how often your thinking is pessimistic and self-critical. Negative thoughts slowly erode your confidence, eventually causing you to lose trust in yourself. For this reason, it’s important to practice mindfulness and learn to recognize negative thought patterns. Please take notice of your feelings but don’t dwell on them. When you stew on negative experiences, you lose sight of all the good around you. 

2. Determine the Thoughts to Reframe

reframe negative thoughts

Not every negative thought is particularly harmful. In fact, if all you experienced were limitless positive thoughts, you’d have a problem. And a serious one at that.

Mindfulness allows you to recognize which thoughts impact your well-being. For instance, if you see things in black and white, this is definitely a thought pattern you should work on reframing. Missing a deadline or not having immediate success in a new venture doesn’t make you a total failure. 

3. Come Up With an Alternative View

Reframe negative thoughts. It isn’t as straightforward or frustrating as repeating positive thoughts repeatedly. Positive reframing is more about finding the upside. Sometimes it can be as simple as learning how to take a compliment. You have more control over your thoughts than you think.

Place your thoughts and emotions aside and focus on the actual facts of the situation. If you’re prone to catastrophizing, for example, you may want to consider:

  • How often has the negative scenario occurred in the past?
  • Is there substantial evidence for my thoughts?
  • Am I attempting to interpret a scenario without all the evidence?

It’s all about facing challenges with more balanced thinking.

4. Practice Compassion

Learn to navigate the gray areas in your life with a little more grace, patience, and compassion. Become your own friend and leave a little love for yourself. Of course, this is easier said than done. Reframe negative thoughts, it takes time and lots of practice.

A final word: If you’re constantly spiraling under the weight of negative thoughts to the point where you can no longer enjoy things you love or navigate relationships, it may be a good idea to reach out to a mental health provider for additional help. This way, you can find reliable coping mechanisms and learn to see yourself in a new light.