What is Cognitive Reframing and Why Does it Work?

I believe that in every negative situation there is a seed of positivity, which is of equal or greater benefit. It will help to use any trick you can to think of problems as ‘good’.
There was a business executive who would always respond to bad news with an enthusiastic, ‘that’s good!’ and then he would look for ways of making what happened turn out for the best.
It might sound crazy, but his was a practical response to something that had already happened. He was very successful, and an important part of his success was doubtless due to his response to problems.
You don’t hide away from problems
Attitudes like that mean that you don’t hide away from problems, and you keep your eyes open while dealing with them. The strange thing is that after doing this a few times you will have confidence that you really mean it and will eventually be glad it happened.
Sales trainers often give their salespeople mental tricks to help them see rejections as not so bad, or even as a good thing. Let’s say you are selling something door-to-door, and someone slams a door in your face. How could you possibly see that as a good thing?
Salespeople who succeed learn to think of ideas as to how a rejection could be a good thing.
Although at first those ideas might not make a salesperson feel any better and the thoughts themselves would seem unnatural and unfamiliar, eventually it becomes as natural and familiar as the old way of thinking and they no longer feel bad when people say no. They might even feel good. 
A great technique
One of the classic reframes of rejection used by salespeople the world over is:
‘This is a numbers game. If my sales record shows that 1 out of every 10 people say yes, then that means the person who said no brought me closer to the one who will say yes!’
It’s all in the perspective. Reframing seems like something superficial, but it is a tremendously powerful tool. People who accomplish things in this world all learn to do it, consciously or not.
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine
I experienced a situation in my basketball career where I needed to reframe in a big way – to not only keep myself sane but also on track. The following situation was a tough one to face.
Things were going well 
When I was 25 years of age, I was playing for England and semi-professionally for Team Fiat in Coventry. It was an exciting time; I had played all over Europe and America, and life was good.
It was then that I received a call that changed my life. It was a call from the basketball manager of Sunderland Basketball club, who said he would like to come and meet with me for a chat.
That chat turned out to be the offer of a professional playing contract – playing the sport I loved, full time! As you can imagine, it didn’t take me long to agree to this and I moved from Nottingham to Sunderland.
 I was housed with a couple of Americans and had my own company car with my name on the side! Life didn’t get much better than this – until about six weeks into training when things suddenly and dramatically changed. 
Then it all went wrong
I’d spent time weight training with these big American players and was trying to keep up with them when I felt an increasing pain in my back. I ignored it until I was playing an exhibition match back in Nottingham, slipped on a wet patch and popped a disc in my back.
The technical term is a prolapsed disc, but most people refer to it as a slipped disc.
I went into the hospital and was on traction to stretch my back out and being prepared for an operation. The directors from the club came to see me and sent me to a famous Osteopath, who worked on my back and got me running again. I knew then that I wouldn’t last long in the game because I was in a fair bit of pain. I had a decision to make.
Do I give up?
Do I carry on playing for Sunderland, knowing it would possibly be short-term, or do I go back to my safe old job? I had made a commitment to playing professionally for Sunderland, so I carried on. 
I ended up playing for another two years all over Europe and my final game was winning the biggest competition in basketball – the Playoff Final at Empire Pool Wembley,1981. There was a sell-out crowd of 10,000 people and live BBC TV coverage. What a way to finish!
As you can imagine, I went through a great deal of negative inner voice dialogue about my situation, and I had to work very hard to reframe this thinking. But with persistence I developed a habit that let me see the positive things in every negative situation, and this is still with me to this day.
Create a new habit of reframing
See if you can develop a habit of finding the seed of something positive in every negative situation. It could be that you are growing in character, it could be that you need to experience the negative to really appreciate something positive.
In the Middle East they don’t appreciate the sun because it’s always sunny and hot. In the UK we really appreciate the sunny days because it rains a lot. So one seed of positivity for rain is that we really appreciate the sun when it appears and we make the most of it. Can you find some more?
 Thoughts for this week: 

  1. How do you respond when you face a negative situation?
  2. Do you respond negatively, or do you try to be positive?
  3. This week every time you face something negative try to find the seed of something positive within that situation.
  4. See if you can create a habit of finding that ‘seed’ every time something negative happens. See it as a game.  

Well that’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and find that ‘seed’.
Warm regards


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