How to Reframe What Seems to be a Negative Event

>> Thursday

On Amazon.com, 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.

Read more: Seeing The Same Thing a Different Way

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.

5 comments:

Anonymous 12:11 AM  

hi adam: i enjoyed your website. i was looking up things in response to a trainer i have that keeps bringing up how i was so negative when i first started the training. maybe he doesn't realize that's why i signed up for a trainer in the first place? anyway, it bothered me and your site helped. also i figured some of this out on my own before, that if something's bothering me i try to look at the positive side of it. your book review blog (about getting bad reviews and taking the pos spin) is exactly what i mean here. thanks again. good luck. nancy in houston (ps: on the 'tear yourself down' part be careful about negative self programming. may be better to get away from the criticizers or not communicate w/them before you do that ) ?

Adam Khan 11:56 PM  

Thank you, Nancy. That's a good point. A close or frequent contact with someone who is determined to bring you down or even who does it accidentally is bad for the attitude. But something can be done about it. Here is a transcript of a course on How To Handle People Who Bring You Down.

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

Hello Adam. I not only benefited from Self Help Stuff That Works, I use it as a sort of reference from time to time when I'm faced with a difficult situation or have just gone through a rough time. The short chapters are useful when used this way. I can find a topic that directly addresses different mindsets I experience. Thank you!

Fred 7:02 AM  

A few years ago, I discontinued my karate club because the instructor was nothing but negative. None of the students knew whether they were doing the right thing. Several times, I nearly assaulted the instructor. But I left, instead, and went my own way. It took a few years to understand why the instructor was so negative: It's how he was raised. It was all he knew. I see it everywhere. It's how people treat their kids. They want kids to be full of self-doubt. I don't know why. But I refuse to act that way.

Like you, I have to be my own cheerleader, now.

Adam Khan 1:25 PM  

You're welcome, Anonymous. That is a perfect way to use that book. I'm glad it helps.

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