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“Positive Reframing” as Optimistic Thinking

Positive reframing won't change the situation, but it can give perspective.

Guest Blog by Talya Steinberg, Psy.D

Optimistic thinking is a resiliency skill that helps people to overcome adversity and reach life goals. Remember the old metaphor “Is the glass is half-full or half-empty?” This is a perfect example of how the same event can be looked at in a positive or negative light. Positive reframing means trying to reconsider things in a positive light, and it is a powerful way to transform your thinking.

Here’s an example of positive reframing that I really love. A woman was new to a large company and was trying very hard to make a good impression on her coworkers. One day, responding to a widely sent email, she accidentally attached a personal document about her financial difficulties instead of the intended form. Realizing the mistake to her chagrin, she quickly sent out a new email with the message “…Well at least it wasn’t a love letter ;)” Her coworkers got a kick out of her response, and an event that could have caused her to look unprofessional actually improved her coworkers’ opinions of her.

Positive reframing does not change the situation, but it can certainly reduce damage and put things into a healthier perspective. Therapists use it frequently as a technique to restructure cognitions. When done skillfully with humor, it can be a wonderful tension defuser. Try it and see how a well-placed positive reframe can make a difference in a difficult situation.

Dr. Talya Steinberg received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2011 and is completing her postdoctoral training in Portland, Maine. She endorses positive psychology principles and teaches resiliency skills with Dr. Breazeale.

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