Positive Spin or Denial? You Decide

A common technique used in therapy is something called “reframing,”  where the therapist helps the client view certain concepts in a different (and usually more positive) way. What’s the purpose of this? Well, we mortal humans tend to see events or situations as being either “good” or “bad,” when most of time, they’re somewhere in between. For example, when we’re in love, we see the other person as being wonderful and perfect. We’re unable or unwilling to see any flaws. On the other hand, when we’re depressed, we experience even neutral situations as lonely and sad.

People seek therapy for themselves because they want to think and plan in new ways that will help them feel happier and healthier – and reframing is one of the first steps toward this goal. After all, if you think everything about your situation is terrible, and you don’t see anything to hope for, you’ll probably be less likely to make changes…because what’s the point, if there’s no hope?

Here are a couple examples of reframing…

“Instead of being stubborn, maybe you just know what you want.”

“You’re frustrated with yourself for feeling anxious, but feeling anxious is a normal and understandable response in your situation.”

It’s also a helpful technique in parenting – just like people get “stuck” on how to help themselves, they can also get stuck on how to handle certain behaviors in their children. Reframing can aid in increasing a parent’s compassion toward her child, and return her sense of being in control. By changing the perspective, it unlocks a new set of solutions.

Here are a couple examples of reframing in regards to parenting…

“Instead of seeing him as bossy, maybe we can see him as a natural leader.”

“The advantage to her hyperactivity is that she’s creative and energetic.”

Reframing is not dishonest, nor does it mean sweeping the core problem under the rug. It truly is just a different way to look at the same situation in order to return a sense of agency.  Of course, this wouldn’t be my blog unless I took something good and useful, and twisted it into something weird.

When I was in high school, I had a yellow shirt that read (in pink sparkly glitter): “I’m not opinionated, I’m just always right.” I cringe now to think about how obnoxious that shirt must have been.  Forgive me, fellow classmates, for inflicting that upon you. But when I push past the regret of early 2000s fashion, I can definitely see the humor in those types of mottos. They allow you to completely ignore any flaw or issue you have, in favor of seeing yourself in a more flattering light.

And I like that.

So I started thinking about some of my own weaknesses and issues, and thought it’d be fun to reframe them beyond recognition. At this point, it’s probably not “reframing” so much as it is just straight-up denial.

Some of my flaws, both before and after I “reframed” them…

























Now it’s your turn at denial! What do you consider to be your weaknesses? How can you reframe (or twist) these flaws to get a different view of them?

20 thoughts on “Positive Spin or Denial? You Decide

    1. Hmm let’s see… I’d say the super anxiety = EXTRA aware and alert – to the point where it’s like your super power. And codependency = selfless and supportive, and puts others’ needs ahead of own.

      This is fun! It’s like a game haha.


  1. I love “reframing!” I did this with clients everyday, and each time I was thinking: how much higher and deeper can I spin this bullshit? Though it really did help. Now, I have a 20 month old and I don’t want to think of her and coming into the “terrible” twos or of being “an asshole” or anything like that (so many parenting articles say stuff like that, and maybe it helps some people, but not me) and so I reframe things she does to help me keep my cool. So far it’s worked.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, that happens to me sometimes too haha! I find that if the reframe seems BS to me, it’s probably because the client’s flaw is similar to one of my own, so it’s harder for me to believe the reframe.

      I can totally see where you’re coming from with the “Asshole toddler” stuff. As a non-parent, I think the articles are amusing, but when/if I have kids, I’m sure I won’t want someone referring to them in such a harsh way, either. I do work with the little bitties in therapy though, and when their obstinance is irritating me, I reframe it by reminding myself that they’re SUPPOSED to be exploring their independence and pushing limits to see where the boundaries lie. It’s part of healthy development, not something they’re doing just to bug me. It works for me, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Non-amusing part of comment:
    “After all, if you think everything about your situation is terrible, and you don’t see anything to hope for, you’ll probably be less likely to make changes…because what’s the point, if there’s no hope?”
    Sadly, that sentence is my life right now.

    I have been going through the process you describe. Like, right now. Literally. And while I understand that there’s no immediate gratification, so to speak, it feels pointless… because I don’t believe the reframed version. At all. I can come up with that version… I can say it, write it, whatever… just like I could do my history homework in high school even though I knew it would leave my brain the moment the test was over. But it seems pointless.

    Okay, better part of comment —
    I am a self-important b*tch. No no… I’m just a genius. (I have the coffee mug to prove it.) I have no idea why some people (usually my husband) insist on disagreeing with me. It always comes back to bite him in the you-know-what. Because I’m a genius… so I’m always right. This has come up so often in my home that my kids repeat it all the time, especially to my husband. “Mom’s always right.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hopelessness is the worst possible feeling in my book. It feels like your life serves no real purpose, holds no meaning. And it doesn’t help to see all the internet memes that say things like, “you have to make your own meaning!” While that might be true, it’s probably the equivalent of suggesting that a blind man just try harder to see. If trying harder made any difference whatsoever, he probably wouldn’t be in his situation in the first place. And I’m guessing neither would you be. We can’t reframe depression by making it seem like an easy-to-fix situation. It’s not. But sometimes it helps to think of it as being separate from who you are as a person. It undoubtedly affects your day-to-day life, but the “real you”, your personality, your memories, etc are still in there. I think it’s also important to have someone else (like a therapist) to suggest the reframe or new perspective for you. Because trying to do it for yourself is tough when you’re stuck with the same sad, self-hating thoughts swirling around your head all the time 😦

      I ought to send you my glittery “opinionated” shirt! I mean, if I still had it. You’re right on track with reframing here – clearly, you’re a clever, logical-minded genius that no one has appreciated yet…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my God… this stuff: “you have to make your own meaning!” makes me want to kick someone in the face. I’m glad you understand… That stuff is the opposite of helpful!

        I have been seeing a therapist… otherwise I don’t know that I would even bother trying this reframing thing… since I assume it won’t work. I’ve told Mr. Therapy that, too. I know that’s a terrible attitude… but he thinks my honesty about that is important. I told him I feel like I’m lying… faking it. So what’s the point? But he says it’s not unusual for me to feel this way now… hopefully he’s not full of crap.

        And that whole line about faking it until it feels real? I don’t buy it. I can act like I’m fine when I have to. But it doesn’t make me actually be fine. It makes me a half-decent actress (without the movie star paycheck).

        Maybe someday someone will truly appreciate my beautiful mind…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s not a terrible attitude if that’s honestly how you feel about your situation. Therapists would much rather you be upfront than to play pretend – otherwise, it’s confusing for them as to whether or not they’re being helpful, and of course it’s frustrating for you.

        It’s ironic though, because I’m considering the idea of going back to therapy, and I’m the worst about saying something’s helpful when it’s not, just because I feel “rude” about being honest 🙄. People are so weird sometimes haha.

        I’m sorry that things feel so terribly, terribly “not fine” for you right now, and it’s understandable that putting on a fake smile doesn’t do anything for you. Sometimes it’s important to just allow yourself to feel a certain way, without looking for ways to make it go away. It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes it provides some relief. Good on you for giving therapy a shot.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, I felt rude when I told him I didn’t think any of it was going to help! But if I wasn’t honest then I was even more certain that it wouldn’t help! … From one genius to another — thank you… you’re a good friend. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re hilarious 😉 My mum had a tendency to put on rose colored glasses which sometimes felt invalidating or sadistic. Now that I’m a grown up I think reframing and looking for the good is healthy coping. Im all for fresh perspectives!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You bring up a good point, because this strategy could absolutely be invalidating in some cases. If someone is grieving the death of a loved one, things like “he lived a long life” or “he’s in a better place” are well-intentioned, but fail to make the person feel understood or comforted. Like you, I find it helpful to have a different perspective! But only if it “adds” something to my situation, as opposed to minimizing my feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

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