[Wellbeing, Personal Development, Professional Development]
Change your outlook on a rough day with these 3 reframing tools
Having a less than perfect day? We have two pieces of good news for you! The first is you’re definitely, 100% certified human. The second; it doesn’t mean today has to be a write-off. Let’s see if we can bring it round together. Here are three mental hacks for transforming your day that you can action, right now.
1. Switch your focus
Reflect for a moment on the event(s) that made today feel less than positive.
Doesn't feel too good, does it?
Now, shift your focus towards everything else that happened. As you scan through the past few hours, ask yourself: can I take away anything positive or enriching? Maybe Becca from accounting brought in doughnuts? Maybe you had a real moment of connection with a colleague? And maybe - just maybe - you've learnt something valuable from the day’s undesirable events.
Winnie the Pooh is the master of this kind of reframing;
Not such a silly old bear, after all
When we allow ourselves to dwell, our minds and bodies respond accordingly. That’s why a relatively small issue in the morning can feel like the worst thing in the world by lunchtime. We simply give it too much of our time, focus and energy. After all, YOU are the master of your own mind, and what you say goes.
So it’s very possible that there’s actually a lot to be happy about today. It’s so easy to skip over the positives, and allow the negatives to trigger us. There’s seldom nothing to be grateful for - we just don’t always see it straight away.
2. Use a subconcious cheat code
Did you know your subconscious mind paints a picture of the world based on your senses? What we see, smell, touch and hear feeds information into our subconscious and creates threads that connect positive with positive and negative with negative. Therefore, when you alter the way input is received, you start to influence the feelings associated with that input.
The most amazing thing about this is that we can use it like a cheat code for the subconscious mind. If you change the way something looks or sounds, you can also change the way it is being stored in your mind.
Have you ever grabbed a balloon at a birthday party and inhaled the helium to create that high-pitched voice we all love? Pretend you’ve just picked up a balloon and taken a big inhale. Now, try saying; “I’ve had a really bad day!” in that squeaky chipmunk voice. And just like that, this phrase has become hilarious! Isn’t it extraordinary?
Sure - you probably don’t have any helium balloons on you right now. But you do have a more powerful tool: your imagination. Here’s an exercise that will help you rewire your emotional response to perceived negative input:
- Identify the main problem with your day
- Come up with some voices that make you laugh (take inspiration from cartoon characters, memories, comedians and people that make you giggle!)
- Reiterate the problem to yourself in these voices. Be creative! You are rewiring your emotional response to perceived negative input.
“Make it imaginative. Imagination is akin to forming a new memory. You are literally changing the way your mind focuses.”
- Natalie Rae, Life Ladder Founder
This works with visuals, too! Close your eyes and form a mental picture of what’s making today a bad day. What would it look like if everyone involved was one of The Muppets? Add details that will make you smile. Your own unique, hilarious angle. What do things look, move and sound like in this alternate reality?
When you get into the habit of reframing negative situations as something that makes you laugh or smile on a sensory level, the way you experience ‘bad days’ will be forever transformed.
The ability to change the way your mind is focusing is a skill we can all master. This is but one of many techniques you can learn on the Life Ladder platform.
3. Get it down on paper
This third one can be a truly profound experience.
Is your bad day associated with how you feel about yourself? Perhaps how you feel about a family member, colleague or place of work?
Grab a piece of paper. Write down a short list of categories that define everything that’s playing on your mind, or draw a quick table like the one below:
Now, fill in the blank space under each with all the things you like, or love, about these categories:
Populate it with as much as you can. Leave no positive detail out, no matter how small you think it is. You’ll soon begin to see that (shock, horror) you may actually enjoy all these things! It’s a great way of reframing your outlook on life’s little setbacks in the moment. In the words of our very own Natalie Rae:
“What’s bugging you becomes like one, tiny mark on an easel full of colour!”
We’re all human, so most of us respond to bad days in broadly similar ways. We accept them as outside of our control, and see ourselves as the victims of circumstance. This is a perfectly natural response that comes from a basic instinct that we all share. It’s easy, particularly in difficult moments, to forget that we do have power over our neurological responses.
Life Ladder helps you grow and cultivate that power. Our method of everyday micro-learning helps you to develop healthy learning habits - subconsciously preparing you to tackle the very worst of bad days.
There are innumerable resources on the Life Ladder platform that tackle these day-to-day challenges.
Bad days are an inevitable part of working life, but your response doesn't have to be a given. This is where Life Ladder puts you in the driving seat.
Imagine your entire staff force proactively rewiring their response to bad days. Picture the entire company focused on the positives, empowered by new found cognitive control.
We tackle everything from ‘conflict resolution’ to ‘anxiety’ to ‘difficult work relationships’ (and everything in between).
Life Ladder's bite-sized personal and professional development content is designed to empower your people to thrive as successful, resilient and happy employees. The result? Productivity, retention and organisational growth.