Be REAL Week 5

Checking the facts

In our fifth session, we discussed Cognitive Reframing, including strategies for finding a more balanced perspective. We also discussed how self-compassion and gratitude practices can support us through challenging times and cultivate more balanced perspectives. 

 

Cognitive Reframing

Cognitive reframing means seeing or thinking about things in a different way, with a different “frame” on the picture. It means changing our negative interpretations, assumptions, or thoughts about something into thoughts that are less negative or more balanced, taking in both the negative and positive aspects of a situation, or the potential for a positive outcome.

Think about when you take a picture and then consider cropping it – you can zoom out and see the whole picture, or you can zoom in to frame part of the picture so it focuses on a particular part. You could take the same picture and zoom in on two totally different parts, and make it seem like two different pictures. So by “reframing” your picture, you can change how we see it. 

Below are a few steps for finding a more balanced perspective. 
 

 
 

Gratitude

Growing gratitude for what we have, such as what fills our hearts and nurtures us, can increase our overall happiness, sense of self-worth, and social connectedness. It can also help us connect with insight on what we have learned through life’s many challenges. 

 
Research show that our brain has a built-in negativity bias. For example, studies have shown that it takes an average of five positive interactions to make up for one negative one. In short, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences (they stick more), and Teflon for positive ones (they don’t stick as well!).The good news is we can rewire our brains to take in more positive experiences – to make them stick more like Velcro.

Here are a few ways to cultivate gratitude:

We can experience gratitude and other feelings simultaneously. For example, we can feel grateful for the way a loved one supported us in the past and frustrated by their current actions. We can grieve in-person connections lost during COVID19 and be grateful for virtual visits. 

Focusing on gratitude does not mean we minimize or ignore the challenges in our lives or the pain we experience. Practicing gratitude allows us to create space in our minds and hearts for what we do have – such as the qualities in ourselves that make us resilient, and the loved ones in our lives who support us through hard times. Also, because the mind has a negativity bias, this practice allows us to pause and connect with what we have in this very moment, which strengthens new neural pathways for resilience and balance. Read more about the science behind gratitude in these articles by the Greater Good Science Center:

 

Take in the Good

Similar to gratitude practices, “Take in the Good” and other practices for savoring the moment can rewire our brains to be more balanced and positive. This can be done in just 30 seconds a few times throughout the day. Watch this video with Dr. Rick Hanson on the science behind Taking in the Good

 

Self-Compassion Break

Self-compassion is caring for ourselves the same way we would care for a friend during a difficult time. When we are kind to ourselves, we create space for our emotions and experiences – which allows us to work through difficult situations more easily. There are three key elements to self-compassion: mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness. One practice that includes each of these elements is the Self-Compassion Break. Here are the steps: 

The first step is using mindfulness to bring awareness to the situation we are facing and acknowledge the challenge or difficulty. We can also use mindfulness to bring awareness to our internal experience – e.g. that it’s stressful. 

The second step is connecting with our common humanity. This means reminding ourselves that we are not alone – that other people feel this way or face similar challenges.

The final step is extending kindness to ourselves. This can be done with a simple phrase we say to ourselves. Essentially, we repeat what words of support we need to hear. This is also an opportunity to give ourselves permission to take a break or tap into the support we need. 

Use the image below to take a self-compassion break. Try our 8 minute Self-Compassion Break (Un Momento de Autocompasion).

 
 

Home Practice

Noticing Practices

  • Perspective Taking: Notice when you are focused on only one “piece of the picture”

Guided & Reflective Practices

 
About Be REAL
Be REAL (Resilient Attitudes & Living) was developed at the University of Washington Center for Child & Family Well-Being. The program’s aim is to promote the well-being of college students and staff by building skills to cope with emotions, navigate challenging situations, and strengthening internal awareness. Learn more.