How to Reframe What Seems to be a Negative Event

On, there are 38 reviews of my first book. Most of them are positive, but a few are negative. And of course, because of my brain’s negative bias, at first the negative ones stuck out in my mind and had more emotional impact than all the other positive reviews combined.

I used three reframes for this and they worked so well I'm not bothered by the negative reviews. In fact, I’m actually glad they are there.

There is a difference between “trying to think positive” or “putting a positive spin” on something and actually reframing it. You can tell if you have a genuine reframe if your feelings change. I really, honestly do not feel any negative feelings from these critical reviews. If I still did, then I would know I’m just trying to talk myself into something I really don’t believe. Here are my three reframes:

1. I get to find out what is not good about my book, and since I plan on writing more books, it could be useful information.

2. A few bad reviews helps people make a better decision about buying my book, which should in theory prevent people who wouldn’t like it from buying it.

3. The few bad reviews keep a buyer’s expectations from soaring too high. If a potential customer only read the positive reviews, she might think Self-Help Stuff That Works is the answer to all the world’s problems, and it isn’t. Not only that, but the bad reviews all criticize the same thing, and it is one of the things that the positive reviews almost all praise: That the chapters are short. The people who criticized it wanted something more in-depth. The ones who praised it like the fact that the chapters are brief, to the point, and practical. By having both kinds of reviews, a potential buyer can make a better, more informed decision.

In other words, about the bad reviews, I can genuinely say: “That’s good!”

I created these reframes deliberately. When I first read those reviews, I felt bad. It was kind of upsetting. My feelings were hurt.

So I sat down and wrote as many reframes as I could in a half hour. I set a timer and made myself continue to come up with reframes until the timer went off.

Then I looked through them. Most of them were not very good and some of them were downright stupid, but the three above made sense to me and changed the way I felt about the reviews.

That's a good method for reframing. Make a long list. In your effort to come up with reframes, you'll come up with good ones and bad ones, but some of the bad ones will give you ideas that will help you come up with good ones. How's that for a reframe of the dumb ideas?

Don't judge your reframes until you're done coming up with them. Then look through them and see if any seem like sensible ways to look at the situation. Circle the ones that make sense, or write them on a separate piece of paper and post them somewhere. Let the new ways of thinking sink in and see if they make a difference.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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