Transforming Mindsets: How to Embrace and Believe Reframed Thoughts

April 17, 2024

4 mins

Jackie Rosu


Negative thinking patterns are easy to fall into and even easier to recognize. Most people experience negative thoughts about themselves at some point in their lives.

Negative thinking patterns are easy to fall into and even easier to recognize. Most people experience negative thoughts about themselves at some point in their lives. For example, a student receiving a bad grade in school might assume they’ll fail the class, or a person might assume a friendship is over after a small squabble. Someone else could think they’ll lose their job after messing up a presentation.

As common as negative thinking is, it’s also an unhealthy pattern to maintain. That’s why the practice and implementation of reframed negative thoughts are so important. When a person can recognize their own unhealthy patterns and challenge negative thinking, they can seriously improve their mental health and overall well-being. 

But how does someone address patterns of negative thoughts? In this piece, we’ll explore the techniques and benefits of challenging negative thinking.

How to Reframe Negative Thoughts?

A person can reframe their negative thoughts by challenging them. In this process, a person first learns to recognize an unhelpful thought. Following this, they will examine this thought and assess whether or not it is reasonable. Finally, they transform these thoughts into more neutral or positive ones. The ultimate goal is for a person to reframe their thinking and escape negative thought patterns.

What are Negative Thoughts?

Negative thoughts are automatic, pessimistic thoughts that can enter a person’s mind during everyday life. 

Negative thoughts can be grouped into four main categories. These are:

  • Catastrophizing
  • Overgeneralization
  • Personalization
  • All-or-nothing thinking

Catastrophizing is when a person expects the worst to happen, whether or not any evidence exists. For instance, a person might catastrophize that they’ll drop out of school after one bad grade.

Overgeneralization occurs when a person takes a negative event and believes that it will continue. For example, a person might feel they’ll be forever alone after a breakup.

Personalization is when someone believes that anything another person does is a reaction to them. For example, a person may interpret an upset friend as being mad at them when that friend is actually just having a bad day.

All-or-nothing thinking is a pattern in which a person interprets a situation as either perfect or terrible, with no in-between. A person may judge themselves as a failure for not meeting their goals, even though this is not a realistic judgment.

Negative thoughts can also take a few other forms. For example, they can manifest as blaming, where a person attributes complex problems to a single cause. A person experiencing negative thoughts may discount good things that happen to them in a situation while focusing on the negative aspects instead. They can also feel as though they’ve failed to meet expectations of what they ‘should’ have done.

Strategies for Challenging Negative Thinking

When trapped in a spiral of negative thinking, escape may seem impossible. However, there are strategies to cope. For example, knowing not only how to recognize but also how to catch negative thoughts as they come will give a person the tools to recognize their own spiral. 

A person can identify their negative thinking by examining the unhelpful thoughts they have during the day and assessing whether or not they fit. Should the thought be a negative one, they should then take a step back and examine the situation. 

The next step is challenging that negative thought. A person could reflect on the thought’s accuracy, seek alternative explanations, or even replace it with a more realistic version. It is also helpful to evaluate all the evidence that could support or contradict a negative thought. 

“The ultimate goal is to learn to see situations from a different point of view.”

The ultimate goal is to learn to see situations from a different perspective. As part of this process, it is also important for a person to be compassionate to themselves. Practicing positive self-talk and gratitude assists in cognitive reframing and helps a person challenge their negative thoughts.

How Can Reframing Thoughts Improve Mental Health?

When a person takes the time to reframe their negative thoughts, their focus shifts. Instead of getting mired in negatives, they start to have a more optimistic outlook on life. They become more appreciative of the good in their life, experience less stress, and have a calm and content state of mind.

Cognitive reframing’s effectiveness has also been proven through numerous studies. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it minimized anxiety and depression and enhanced quality of life. Another study proves its effectiveness for addressing substance use disorder, as individuals who challenged their negative thoughts experienced less burnout and more successful treatment.

Reframe Your Thinking with Never Alone Recovery

Negative thinking can trap a person in vicious cycles, but taking the time to address these thoughts can lead to better sleep, moods, mental health, and well-being. By learning to recognize, assess, and ultimately challenge negative thinking instead of internalizing it, a person can improve their outlook overall and face the future with positivity.

Negative thoughts are only one problem people may face in their everyday lives. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, then Never Alone Recovery can help. Offering an online support group and access to addiction recovery consultants, Never Alone Recovery can make long-term recovery attainable. Call us today at 844 364 4445 to find out which Never Alone Program is right for you.

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