A mental reframe is one of the most powerful tools in our psychological toolbox.
I listened to a psychologist tell a story yesterday about how she used 1 mental reframe to help a client overcome alcohol addiction in about 30 seconds.
Think of your mind as a camera lens. Just like a camera lens, your mind can focus on different aspects of a situation, and the way you choose to focus can greatly affect the way you perceive it.
If you’re feeling negative or anxious about a situation, it’s like your mental camera lens is zoomed in on the negative aspects, making them seem larger and more overwhelming than they really are.
A mental reframe is like adjusting the lens to zoom out and see the bigger picture. It allows you to broaden your perspective and see the situation from a different angle, which can help you find more positive or helpful aspects to focus on.
Just as a photographer might play with different settings to get the perfect shot, you can experiment with different mental reframes to find the one that works best for you.
By shifting your focus, you can change the way you experience the situation and feel more in control of your thoughts and emotions.
Ok … let’s dig in …
Use a mental reframe to see the bigger picture.
1. Old lens: All or nothing
New lens: Something or some things
One of the biggest disruptors in your pursuit of any goal, is viewing a setback as proof of failure. Which leads to the feeling of “why bother.”
For example, you eat poorly one day and, mentally, give yourself an F. Since you failed, you decide to stay in the pit of failure for a while.
Eventually, the pit of failure feels pretty shitty and you’re further away from your goals so to make up for lost time, you vow to be perfect.
All or nothing. Black and white thinking is exhausting. It’s a cognitive distortion that exists in all of us so we have to intentionally reframe.
You probably didn’t completely fail. There’s likely something that you did that day that’s positive. Maybe you moved your body or drank some water or ate some veggies. You either did something or you did some things (like multiple things that are in alignment with your goals).
This allows you to live more in the gray. And the gray is where success really happens.
2. Old lens: I celebrate results.
New lens: I celebrate the process.
Celebrating results is fickle. And an empty pursuit. Let’s say you want to lose 20 lbs. And then you lose 20 lbs. Now what??
If you’re like me, you’ll push the goalpost back. You’ll aim for another 10. And then another. And another.
When does it stop? Well … for me, it stopped when I burnt out and gained it all back. In fact, some people sabotage themselves so they can start the pursuit again because it comes with a juicy dopamine hit.
Instead, you should celebrate the process. Acknowledge when you follow through on the tiny habits that you say you’re going to do. The 5 minute walk each day. The high protein breakfast. The 10 minutes of self care.
Solidify the process and stack your confidence so that when you say you’re going to do something, your brain and body now that it’s going to happen no matter what.
3. Old lens: I’m trying to …
New lens: I AM …
Nothing raises a red flag more than “trying.” I’m trying to eat better. I’m trying to not let the scale impact me so much. I’m trying to focus more on the process.
You’re still creating a degree of separation. You’re still disconnecting yourself from the thing that you want to do.
I’m eating better. I’m not letting the scale impact me so much. I’m focusing more on the process.
See how much more impactful that is? You ARE doing it. Or you’re not.
You may think this is just semantics, but language is important. Change is hard enough. You need to identify as the person who does those things.
It’s ok to work on skills. To work on yourself. To work on mental roadblocks.
But what if you just put the label on and wore it as if it already is happening.
You’ll start to act in accordance with that label. I AM a fit person. Own it.
4. Old lens: I need to be motivated.
New lens: I need to be disciplined.
Discipline is reliable. Motivation is fleeting.
Most of the things you do on a daily basis are the product of discipline and routine.
The pursuit of any goal is no different.
You start small and you follow through each day. Then you keep doing it for a long ass time. Consider what you can realistically commit to, even on your worst day.
Some days I don’t feel like writing. Even though it’s something I enjoy doing very much. But the motivation isn’t always there.
But I’ve been writing every day for the past 5 years. My discipline in this practice is strong. It’s a great feeling when motivation becomes irrelevant.
Create that same foundation for your health related habits.
5. Old lens: I’m doing this for (insert timeline).
New lens: I’m doing this forever.
When you remove the finish line and the need for instant gratification, you also remove the unsustainable solutions. The quick fixes go bye-bye.
The lifelong pursuit is such a beautiful thing. Because you just keep learning and growing. And it literally never stops.
You scale a mountain and once you reach the top, you realize that there’s another mountain. And another. And another.
But the person that you had to become to scale the first mountain is what allows you to scale the second.
So once you recognize that this is life … you can simply learn to love the climb. To embrace the journey.
Enjoy the view from the top and then start climbing again.
It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Which mental reframe do you feel like is the most impactful?
Which one do you struggle with the most?