Your Member Benefits Website features include:

  • Access to online articles with helpful information
  • Ability to submit an online form asking a counselor to contact you
  • Topics covering working life, wellness, parenting, management, etc.

Your Customer Hub features include:

  • Automated headcount updates in UCMS
  • Invoicing reflective of the active populations under your account
  • Access reporting with case trends, disruptive issues, utilisation

Local Service Partners

Local Service Partners are independent EAPs with which WPO has established strategic relationships for the delivery of global EAP services in alignment with the WPO models, processes and quality standards.

  • 21 January 2021
  • 4 years

The Power of Positive Reframing

Staff Writer

When faced with an unexpected change, many people immediately characterize it as “bad” and have a negative reaction—often driven by fear of what might come next. When another person gets on their nerves, they may leap to a negative opinion, ascribing bad motives to their actions. When something goes wrong, they can be overly critical of themselves. Sound familiar? These are often impulsive responses based on unfounded assumptions. They can drive stress, lower your mood, and get in the way of productive action. We will explore ways to turn this around to harvest the benefits of positive reframing.

In reality, the change that’s happening is neither bad nor good—It’s your reaction to it that’s negative. The person you are irritated by may simply have a different style of communicating than you, and the best of intentions. And what went wrong may not have been your fault. When you look at an event or a person through a negative frame, you’re setting yourself up for stress and unhappiness and placing an obstacle in your forward path.

By shifting the frame through which you view something—what some people call positive reframing—you can often turn that negative reaction around. When you do, you’ll find opportunities for personal growth, closer collaboration, and better outcomes.

What is positive reframing?

Positive reframing is the technique of looking at things in new ways to find the positive in them—the opportunities in change, the good in other people, and the strengths in yourself. It’s the simple act of changing your point of view.

While the idea of positive reframing is simple, it can take practice to make it work for you. It involves changing habits of thought. When you notice yourself having a negative reaction to an event or another person, or disheartening thoughts about yourself, positive reframing is a tool that can open your mind to more positive thoughts and possibilities.

How Positive Reframing Can Help You

Positive reframing doesn’t change the situation you’re facing or the people you’re dealing with. It changes your responses to those realities, enabling you to deal with them in productive and positive ways. By taking a more flexible and open-minded approach, positive reframing can help you do the following:

  • Reduce stress.
  • Be more resilient.
  • Improve relationships.
  • See and act on new opportunities.
  • Be more thoughtful and open-minded.
  • Find greater happiness in life.
Examples of Positive Reframing

Reframing Events and Situations

  • When a change happens, instead of focusing on what could go wrong for you, think about new opportunities the change might present.
  • When you suffer a setback, instead of catastrophizing and seeing a steady downward path ahead, look for ways to turn the situation around.
  • Look for the humor in tough situations. Find ways to laugh at what’s absurd while working to make the best of a difficult time.
  • Instead of feeling defeated and hopeless, think about where you can take action—even a small first step to start making a situation better.
  • Avoid words like “can’t” and “impossible” when thinking about a challenge. Recognize that it may be difficult, but assume that you “can.”
  • Think of the stress from a new challenge as a form of energy—invigorating and exciting rather than draining and debilitating.

The goal here is to step back from a narrow and negative view of a situation and look for new perspectives that can lead to opportunities and personal growth.

Reframing Your Perceptions of Other People

  • Instead of seeing someone as impulsive, see them as spontaneous.
  • Instead of seeing someone as stubborn, see them as committed and persistent.
  • Instead of seeing someone as fearful, see them as thoughtful and careful.
  • Instead of seeing someone as loud, see them as exuberant and confident.

The idea here is to turn negative assessments of people into more generous and positive views. Positive reframing in your relationships with others involves looking for the good in people rather than assuming and focusing on the bad.

Reframing How You Think About Yourself

  • When you make a mistake, instead of coming down hard on yourself, think about what you can learn from the situation so that you can do better in the future.
  • Be kind to yourself. If you find yourself being overly self-critical, imagine how you would talk to a friend in your situation.

Positive reframing can help you turn self-talk into a motivating boost rather than a discouraging critique.

Practicing Gratitude
Making time to think about what you are grateful for is another form of positive reframing. It pushes your thinking from the negative to the positive aspects of life to remind you what is going well.

Try it for yourself.

Positive reframing takes some effort, especially at first. It’s like changing any other habit—in this case, the habit of reflexive negative thinking. With practice, though, it gets easier. Here are some ways to build the positive-reframing habit:

  • Pay attention to quick and impulsive negative reactions to events and people. When you catch yourself in these thought patterns, make a concerted effort to replace those negative reactions with more positive and open-minded views of the situation. What might be another explanation for this? How might that new view open the door to something positive?
  • Look for what you can change, what’s within your span of control. You can’t change market forces that are affecting your job or, usually, the behavior of other people. But there’s always some aspect of the situation that you can change. Your reaction to it is one aspect. There may be others, too, and those could lead to new opportunities.
  • Examine what’s causing you stress. What are you worried about or fearful of? Are those worries and fears reasonable? How might you look at and react to the things that are causing you stress to defuse tension and turn them into positives?
  • Find the humor. Even in the worst situations, there’s always something absurd that you can laugh at. Laughter will lift your spirits, helping you turn negative thoughts into positive strategies.
  • Focus on positive outcomes. When you feel overwhelmed by a challenge, look ahead to the end result and the progress that you’re making. Look back, too, at the progress you’ve made and past accomplishments. Too often, people move quickly from one task or challenge to another without taking time to recognize and celebrate their successes.
  • Break the catastrophizing habit. It’s easy, and not usually helpful, to jump to visions of worst-case scenarios. Turn this tendency on its head by realistically considering the worst thing that could happen. Say it out loud or write it down. Now think about how likely that outcome actually is and how bad it really would be. How might you cope with that situation? What might you do to reduce the risk of it happening? You’ll probably find that the worst-case scenario is neither as likely nor as bad as you are imagining.

Bad things do happen in life, and many of them are out of your control. You will encounter difficult or aggravating people. You may be in the habit of over-criticizing yourself. Positive reframing is a valuable tool to help you consider those events, people, and thoughts in a new light—to shift your immediate and negative responses to ones that are more considered and optimistic. It may feel forced at first, but as you practice positive reframing it will come more naturally to you. Once it becomes a habit, you’ll probably notice some of the stress in your life melting away and some of your relationships with other people becoming easier and more rewarding. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you may find new solutions to what might otherwise have seemed like insurmountable problems.

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family, and personal needs to become healthier, happier, and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness, and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals, and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more visit 

Morgan, H. (2020, November). The power of positive reframing (C. Gregg-Meeker, Ed.). Raleigh, NC: Workplace Options.

Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.

Related Posts

Wellbeing at Work Resources

Explore, educate and engage with our library of reports and insights on wellbeing industry trends.