Have you ever found yourself automatically thinking about the worst thing possible about something that has gone wrong in your life? Inside your head you immediately hear things like, “what were you thinking, you know you’re stupid”, or “nothing ever works out for me”. You don’t have to put up with things like this forever. There is a way that you can look at things more positively. It takes practice, perseverance and patience with yourself, but you can make changes.

Today’s article was written by a friend of mine, who shared part of my psychology degree with me at university. Now a provisional psychologist, Liz has come in to talk with us about how you can use a specific positivity (and psychological) technique to transform the way you think. If you can persist with this strategy over time, you’ll find that pretty soon you’ll be thinking about things differently.


 

Cognitive restructuring sounds like a tricky process of rebuilding the brain, however it can relate to reframing a situation to take a more positive view of the outcome.  This is not about putting a positive spin on something that does not deserve it, but rather it is a process of looking at it from another perspective – one that lies within yourself.  This perspective is often tied down from the weight of holding on to the past, but finding it allows you to filter through the hurt to find the learning and growth that the experience gave you without trivialising or denying what happened.

Experiences that benefit from reframing are those that left you feeling damaged or let down in some way and that you are holding on to for some reason, such as to remind you not to make that mistake again, to plan a pay-back, or because it is just too hard to forgive and forget.  For this reason, reframing may seem impossible at first, but holding on to the past is just as likely to result in problems for you, so please bear with me.

Most people have experienced something in their past that makes them feel emotionally scarred and resentful or bitter.  But what if you could revisit that from a new perspective?  Could that tragedy actually have pushed you towards a decision or direction you would not have made otherwise?  Could that new or different direction have ended up being better for you despite the pain you went through?  Possibly.  Possibly the potential new direction has been thwarted due to being stuck in the hurt or maintaining a firm grip on blame.

Like so many others, I too have experienced a few heartbreaks where life/family/friends did not deal me what I thought was fair or good for me.  At the time of these events I could see no benefits in them for me whatsoever and for some time I held on to my hurt and resented the parts others played in those events.  In retrospect, I can see that the difficult and hurtful experiences pushed me away from certain places and people and towards the life I wanted but did not yet realise – one that I would never have chosen from the security of a comfortable and supportive environment.

By exploring how different my choices have been compared to what they would have been if I had not had these experiences, I can see what the experiences gave me – a way out of my old life and the expectations of others.  I can even be grateful now, as I am sure it inadvertently did me a favour.  Transformations are typically difficult and painful, but the result can be beautiful.  Learn to live the life you have, not the life you had.

Liz vulnerability

 

LBlight_Profile_cropped (2)My name is Liz. I am currently a provisionally registered Psychologist working in Hervey Bay, a regional coastal town in Queensland, Australia, as a casual lecturer with the University of Southern Queensland and as a Counsellor with UnitingCare Community.  I have a diverse work history that eventually led to entering university as a mature age student while married with two young children.  I am passionate about improving educational outcomes for children and feel proud to have been involved in Smart Steps: Jobs to Go, a federally funded project aimed at raising career inspirations of primary aged students.  I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to use this profession to help myself and others build insight, coping skills, and confidence for dealing with life.