Tools for Living - Reframing

There is a positive intention behind every thing you do. Sometimes, though, bad habits seem to get us the things we want. Reframing will help you find ways to realize your intention with a positive action.

Let's look at an example: When Joan feels stressed, she overeats. Her intention is to relieve stress. She's getting what she's after with an action that's not good for her — a negative action. What else could Joan do to relieve stress? Reframing can help her determine that.

Use Reframing to help you toward your goal:
  • When you want to stop a negative or unwanted behavior.
  • If you let your emotions govern your food choices.
  • If you eat under stress.

The questions you need to ask yourself in order to reframe a negative behavior are:

1. What behavior do you want to change?
In Joan's case, it's stress eating.

2. What does that behavior get for you?
Joan eats when she's stressed out because it helps her relieve stress.

3. How else can you get that benefit?
Joan makes a long list of other ways — positive ways — she can relieve herself of stress:
  • Take a hot bath.
  • Go for a walk with her dog.
  • Organize — sit down and make a list of the things that need to be done.
  • Write in her journal.
  • Read a book.
  • Call a good friend and talk about it.
  • Take an art class.
Make a list for yourself. What things do you think you could do that would give you the same results as the action you want to change?

4. Which of these new behaviors would you be willing to try?
Choose from your own list — decide which things you'd most enjoy doing to satisfy your positive intention. You're not limited to this list. Let it be a resource of ideas to refer to when you're inclined toward negative behavior that sabotage what you truly want.
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