Cognitive reframing is a psychological tool based on influencing thoughts that influence behavior. By addressing cognitive processes, especially negative thinking, we can change the narrative that influences the quality of our lives. When positive and self-compassionate thoughts are practiced, it increases our self-esteem, self-efficacy (belief in ourselves), and overall well-being.
An example of cognitive reframing
An athlete thinks to herself, “I can’t do this. I am not good or strong enough. He/she is way better than me, and I should just give up now so I do not embarrass myself.”
Now, once this athlete becomes aware of her negative self-talk, she is able to empower herself with cognitive reframing. First, she must say “stop,” “wait a minute,” or “shush” to the negative thoughts. Then, she must provide evidence to refute the self-talk. For example, she may provide a memory of a time she succeeded at her training or performed well. From there, she can adopt an alternative viewpoint that she is capable. Sometimes, depending on what the topic the negative thoughts revolve around, additional research, knowledge accumulation, or external support systems may be necessary. If it is difficult to find refuting evidence, that is when it is time to seek support and knowledge.
Lastly, the new frame is practiced and slowly adopted over time. Keep in mind that it takes patience and practice to develop new cognitive frames. It is like building nature trails. They have to be walked over and over again to become a distinctive and well-developed path. Once they have been walked enough, they can be followed without much thought.
Brooke Kollman, BS, RYT, is the Nutrition & Wellness Coordinator at the Integrative Medicine Center. Born and raised in Minnesota, Brooke moved to Colorado to obtain her B.S. in Integrative Health Care at MSU Denver. She is a board certified Health and Wellness Coach and a registered Yoga Instructor. Call (970) 245-6911 for an appointment with Brooke or more information.