Stop that Negative Voice with Cognitive Reframing!
By Heather Preston, MA, CHES, ACSM-CPT, CHWC
We all have that nagging negative voice that tells us we “don’t belong” or we are “never going to lose this weight”; it is a normal part of the human psyche. But this does not mean we have to let it run rampant! Cognitive reframing, or reconstruction, is a way to help you change your negative self-talk into more positive experiences. Cognitive reframing will not only help to accelerate your fitness progress, it will also positively impact every aspect of your life!
What is Cognitive Reframing?
Cognitive reframing is a psychology technique that identifies and then disputes the negative thought running through your mind. It is a way to view the experience or thought in a more positive way. To put it simply, you are changing the way you look at something! Doing this allows you to challenge the negative thought and become a more positive and happy person; no more negative voice!
Okay, if it were that easy none of us would ever suffer from the negative junk we say to ourselves. The real point of this exercise will be to begin to be more aware of your negative voice and then to practice reframing the voice into something more positive. This will take time; some negative thoughts or past hurts run very deep. You will find that sometimes it is easy and other times you really need to work at it until it finally sticks. Simply repeating the new, positive phrase to yourself is what will make it part of your being. Okay, so let’s talk about what we need to do first.
The Critical Steps to Cognitive Reframing
As soon as the negative thought pops into your head, stop; does your perception match the reality? Is what you are thinking or saying to yourself really true? Probably not. “I didn’t lose two pounds this week so this is never going to work.” NEVER GOING TO WORK. How realistic is that? Not very.
Once you stop yourself dead in your thought–processing tracks and identify that you have a negative message coming through, the next step is to try to see a more positive light. What did you learn from the experience? When did you have success in the past? Draw from these questions to reframe your self-talk. “This was a rough week but I learned that I need to be more organized so I have healthy options on hand when it is time to make dinner and prepare snacks. Next week I will do better!”
The Bottom Line
Being aware and more “mindful” of our negative thoughts is the first step in stopping it, then restructuring and deciding what thoughts you are going to “let in” will be the next to help squelch the negative voice that is running rampant. Remember, seeing something as positive or negative is a choice; it is up to you to make the right choice!
By being proactive and utilizing cognitive reframing each and every day, you will eventually begin to establish a new mindset that will positively impact your life in many ways. Whether you want to achieve a lofty fitness goal or master any area of your life, cognitive reframing is another fantastic tool to add to your life mastery toolkit.
Try this: Think of 2-3 negative thoughts that your negative voice keeps feeding to you. Work on reframing these thoughts into something better that you can “let in” and become part of your positive self-talk. Keep these positive sentences in the forefront of your mind by writing them down and posting them in your high-traffic areas; office desk, bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or car. Have fun with the process and good luck!