Reframing: 1 Power Tool For Bad Days

You wake up late because you didn’t sleep well and drag around for an hour without getting anything done. It’s halfway through the day, and you feel dejected because nothing feels right or goes as planned. When this happens to you, is the day completely lost? Or do you push your way through it? Either way, your pain level probably changes—somewhere on a spectrum between a little bit worse to a killer pain flare. If this sounds familiar, read Reframing: 1 Power Tool For Bad Days.

Is a Day That Gets Off to a Bad Start Destined to be a Failure? 

Lack of sleep definitely affects our energy level and brain function. Unfortunately, you can’t just flip a switch and go from exhausted to energetic—probably the reason so many of us grab that cup of coffee to push onward. Other triggers for a bad day include arguments or heated discussions with someone, digestive issues (poor choices of food/drink or health issue), being overwhelmed by something, the after-effects of a personal loss, or listening to the negative talk of others.

Being Thrown a “Curve”

Life constantly throws us curves—a reference to the baseball pitch that never fails to surprise a batter. We plan and organize our lives around what’s expected, what’s scheduled, what is constant, and what is normal. Then, bam! A family emergency. A fight. The good job that’s suddenly gone. A hail storm destroys a flowerbed. Oh, the possibilities are endless.

Yet, we don’t plan our lives around disasters or losses. That would be a depressing way to live. Humans are naturally optimistic creatures who expect plans to go as planned. So, when the curveball comes our way, how do we respond? If you fall into the trap of negative thinking, you are not alone. 

Expectations and How They Influence Our Day

Just as baseball players have varying responses to pitches, we react to life events in every way imaginable. You’ve undoubtedly witnessed people react in ways you don’t expect. While one person who’s wronged appears to forgive easily, another person flies into a rage over a simple error; some people curse every time something doesn’t go right, while others won’t utter more than “ouch” when they hit their thumb with a hammer.

Our expectations and self-talk determine how we deal with events and circumstances we cannot control. And how we repeatedly think and react creates pathways in the brain that serve as defaults—no choosing required. This is why it’s so hard to break bad habits. 

Reframing Your Self-talk—The Best Power Tool For Bad Days

If you normally look out the window to decide if you will like the day, you may be in the habit of judging the day based on weather. That inner dialogue that says, “it’s raining, so I can’t…” stops us from enjoying many a day. Louise Hay is credited with saying, “every thought we think is creating our future.” Intentionally changing our inner dialogue can change the way we do life. We refer to it as reframing, and it’s the best and most powerful tool we have to turn a bad day around.

A definition of reframing by “…cognitive reframing, is a therapeutic process that helps the client discover, challenge, and modify or replace their negative, irrational thoughts.”

Image of muddy kids galoshes on a clean floor

Your expectations and how you react to situations with self-talk influence what happens next

Reframing Your Self-talk—How To Do It

With focused attention and practice, you can reframe your negative self-talk. This habit of reframing will get stronger over time. Try these replacements to your usual responses, and try writing some of your own:

Old Habit Talk … New Self-Talk

  • I can’t … I wonder if
  • I always … I sometimes
  • I’ll never … What if I try
  • You never … Thank you for
  • I’m afraid … I’m curious
  • _________ … _________ (write your own: reframing your self-talk)

And here is a recent article from VeryWellMind that discusses and explores the concept of cognitive reframing.

Changing Your Expectations Can Change Your Reaction

When you see a blinker on the car ahead, you expect them to turn; so you adjust your speed and braking to accommodate it. When we hear a horn behind us, we jump and glance around quickly. These responses come from expecting something we’ve experienced since childhood. However, when it comes to personal interactions or feelings, we have all established patterns of response. For example, your normal response to a child stepping through the door with muddy feet may be to yell because you don’t want to mop the floor again. What change would you see in your response if you decided that seeing your child in the doorway was a gift rather than a problem? 

A Happy Mind Results in a Happy Body

Negative thinking can poison every crevice of our being, mental and physical. It can also be a major contributing factor to chronic pain. If the mind ain’t happy, no part of the body is happy. If you want to create a better future and live with less pain, practicing healthier thinking will eventually lead to more automatic positive thoughts. Can you imagine a calmer body, better energy, and a happier you?  What automatic negative thoughts can you begin reframing? Give it a try and let us know about your experience. We’d love to hear from you. 

Thank you for reading Reframing: 1 Powerful Tool For Bad Days. For more tips on managing chronic pain, read: 5 Self-Care Tips to Boost Energy and Reduce Pain.

Are you interested in becoming a health and wellness coach? Learn more about our health and wellness coach training program, NBHWC-approved.

About the Author: Becky Curtis

After a horrific car accident nearly took her life and her own long and complex recovery journey, Becky has assembled a vibrant team of specially-trained coaches—healthcare professionals who have gained proficiency in teaching and coaching, many who live successfully with chronic pain. Becky travels extensively to speak about the role of health coaching in pain management and has been a regular speaker at PAINWeek®, and many other conferences, in addition to coaching and managing TCC’s program. She lives in Utah with her husband and dog, Quigley.

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