Learning how to reframe negative thoughts is a game changer! In this article, we will outline what it means to reframe negative thoughts, why reframing negative thoughts is important and how to practice this very helpful technique to take negative thoughts captive. At the end, we will identify some examples of reframing negative thoughts, as well.
Thoughts are really quite powerful. In fact, thoughts are the driving force behind feelings and actions (Proverbs 4:23). Research shows that positive thoughts, such as practicing gratitude, lead to emotions such as happiness, peace and contentment which drives our actions. However, the flipside to this coin is negative thoughts. Negative thoughts lead to emotions such as increased stress, depression and anxiety. As a result of those emotions, people tend to isolate, withdraw and give up. This is why reframing negative thoughts is a great way to take thoughts captive.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
What is reframing negative thoughts?
Before outlining and defining what reframing negative thoughts means, I first want to explain what it is not. Reframing negative thoughts is not pretending the reality of life does not exist. In other words, we are not simply leaning into the “power of positive thinking”.
Reframing negative thoughts is much like seeing the same situation from different angles. Just like when watching a movie, you have probably noticed that the same scene is shot from different angles. For instance, if you are dealing with a difficult relationship, you have the choice to focus on all the problems stemming from the relationship or reframing. However, additional angles might be- the character or promises of God in the context of that relationship. Reframing might be identifying how God is growing you and working through you in that difficult relationship.
Why is reframing negative thoughts helpful?
As we covered earlier, negative thinking has a powerful impact on our mental, emotional and even physical well-being. Negative thought patterns are linked to mental health issues such as increased depression, anxiety and decreased self-worth. Negative thoughts undoubtedly lead to negative emotions. One can’t think negatively and experience positive emotions at the same time. The two simply don’t coexist. As a result, negative thoughts, attitudes and feelings are connected to chronic stress which throws hormones out of balance and damages our immune system. Decreased immune function opens us up to all kinds of illness. Negative thinking also creates sleep disturbances, upset stomach, headaches and more.
What do your thoughts settle on? Are you practicing putting your mind on things that are lovely, delightful and true? Or are you practicing negative thinking? Seeing our situation through a new angle is training your brain to find the good. Given the high cost of negative thinking, we must practice reframing negative thoughts.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
How do we reframe negative thoughts?
The first step is identifying the negative thoughts. We must identify the thoughts before we can reframe negative thinking. Identifying negative thoughts can be harder than one might think. Most people are better at identifying negative emotions (I’m raising my hand). When you notice negative emotions, let that be your red flag to ask, what am I saying to myself?
The second step is reframing the thought. Remember, this is where you look at the same scene from different angles. It is always helpful to use your divine weapons for reframing negative thoughts. Your divine weapons are the Sword of the Spirit, this is where you wield Truth. The Truth of Scripture will point to the promises and character of God. Truth infuses the heart and soul with hope and strength. Our other weapon is praying in the Spirit – practice dependence on God when changing the way you think.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4
Examples of Reframing Negative Thoughts
Negative thought: This will never change.
Reframed thought: This is only a season.
Negative thought: I can’t do this.
Reframed thought: I can do anything God calls me to do.
Negative thought: This whole thing is a failure.
Reframed thought: I’m learning a lot, God is growing me.
Negative thought: Why do these things always happen to me?
Reframed thought: I’m learning and growing.
Negative thought: I’m such a loser.
Reframed thought: I am God‘s handiwork.
There is a great deal of power in the thoughts we choose to entertain. They have the power to guide and direct our mental, emotional and physical well-being. Reframing negative thoughts is the practice of looking at any given situation from different angles. The practice of reframing thoughts is important because it increases our mental, emotional and physical well-being. First thing we have to do is identify the thought and then reframe it. The first step is identifying the negative thoughts. When you notice negative emotions, let that be your red flag to ask, what am I saying to myself? The second step is reframing the thought. Remember, this is where you look at the same scene from different angles. It is always helpful to use your divine weapons for reframing negative thoughts.