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Cognitive reframing

Suffering from anxious or intrusive thoughts? Learn to shift your perspective from a negative or unhelpful view to a more positive and constructive one.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of viewing situations with a negative or cautious mindset in the workplace, especially if you’ve been burnt previously.

Entering into decisions and situations with a negative attitude can halt your creativity and ability to view the bigger picture, so it’s well worth learning how to reframe thoughts that don’t serve you well. Remember the mind is a muscle and by practising cognitive reframing you’ll train your brain to think more positively, it just takes consistency and a little work.

When is the best time to use this tool?

  • Stressful situations
  • Problem-solving
  • Conflict resolution

How to use:

Identify negative thoughts:

Pay close attention to your thoughts, especially those that are negative or self-defeating. Are any of these thoughts frequent and reoccurring?

Challenge the thoughts:

It’s time to question the devil on your shoulder. Ask yourself if the negative thought is based on facts or assumptions? Considering alternative interpretations of the situation will help you question the validity of your thoughts.

Back up your reframing with evidence:

It’s time to turn detective. Search your memory for times and instances that challenge your negative thinking. E.g. if you feel like you are disliked by your team, think about times where you might have received positive feedback or praise from one of them to challenge this belief.

Reframe with positive language:

We get that it might feel strange, but by actively voicing positive statements you can train your brain to believe them. If you’re thinking, ‘I have nothing of value to add in this meeting’ try saying something like, ‘My opinions and knowledge are valuble’.

Seek solutions:

Instead of hitting a dead end with a negative thought, challenge your brain to solve the problem and seek a solution. For example, if you’re about to head into a difficult conversation, make sure you make a plan to arm yourself with the knowledge and preparation you need to tackle it confidently.

Seek support and perspectives:

By talking your thoughts and fears over with a trusted friend or colleague you may find that they back up the work you’ve been doing with your cognitive reframing. This will boost the ‘case’ for the new positive mindset you’ve been working towards.

Celebrate small wins:

When faced with a negative mindset, it’s difficult to step back and recognise the great steps you’ve already taken. Make sure to give yourself a pat on the back for even the smallest achievement - your brain will begin to use these as evidence that your positive thinking is working.


Cognitive reframing can work well with bouts of imposter syndrome. If you feel the negative narky voices whispering away, silence them by challenging them with instances where you have made a positive impact at work. Say a positive affirmation out loud, such as, ‘I am worthy of my position’ and practise this whenever you feel yourself questioning your performance.

Key Takeaway

Reframing your thoughts doesn’t happen overnight. By consistently working to think more positively and challenging the niggles you’ll eventually train your brain to automatically revert to constructive thoughts instead of negativity.


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