It was a sunny afternoon, with the chirping birds, the rustling of leaves and the exuberant laughter of children around the house. The children were playing snakes and ladders, and with every rise and fall, there was a sense of achievement, cries, fights and bickering.  Every roll of the dice invoked a mixed feeling. Some were over the moon and others simply couldn’t take what was coming.    

“I want you to fall down “  

“Let the snake bite you and you will come down”. With a smirk.

Tears rolling “I always lose”

“I am not playing this game ever”

“I am not playing this game ever with YOU”

Amidst all the chaos, the dice rolled over to the corner of the room with the number 6 loomed large on it. 

And I started to see it, feel it and think it in a different way.

And I had a flash back to that day…

That day was vibrant with the hues of the daily grind. It was a big day for Parul, her passion was turning into a reality today.

And the dice began their roll. Her anxiety caused her thoughts to spiral into a cycle of self doubt.

I have never done this before. I cannot do it

How will I speak in front of such a big crowd? I am not prepared enough.

I look so silly and idiotic.

Look at me, my nose is too long… I look so ugly

People will laugh and stare at me.

I am no good. I can’t do it.

Her heart is racing and pounding. Her thoughts are on a roll and picking momentum. She gets increasingly anxious for the most important event of her life. 

STOP.

Isn’t this something everyone goes through? We are faced with overwhelming thoughts but we move on as if nothing has happened. Over time, the self doubt chips away at our confidence.

Imagine the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise. Let us tweak it a bit. The tortoise is heading towards a big challenge. It is something he hasn’t done before. His thoughts would have possibly gone along these lines:

I have never done this before. I cannot do it.

I look so silly and idiotic.

People will laugh and stare at me.

I am no good. I can’t do it.

I can’t run like the Hare.

I am too slow for that.

By having these self defeating, anxious thoughts, the Tortoise could have lost the race even before it kicked off.

But, instead the tortoise unhesitatingly began the race, and we all know how that story ends!

I bet all of us have been through a scenario where our inner monologue is so overpowering that it has led us down a spiral of anxiety. One thought leading to the other and there is no stopping what, how and why we think the way we think.

Parul has an overactive inner critic that needs to be silenced. Her abilities, skills, traits, attitude take a backseat and the spiraling of self doubt masks the real her.

In the irrational fear of over thinking and over reactions; we go from overwhelmed and frustrated and often end up with an explosive outburst.

Why don’t we tweak our thoughts a bit?

Each thought builds off the one before it. 

Stand in front of the mirror. Take a deep breath.  And think: What do I want? Do I desire to be broken into bits and pieces with undesirable ideas and lose out on opportunities? Definitely not. Stop and swap your thoughts.

R.E.F.R.A.M.E

R – Roll the dice

E – Energize

F – Funny Side up

R – Reorganize your thoughts

A – Abilities up

M – Motivate the inner you

E – Express positivity

This is how reframing would look like in practice for Parul:

One – I may not have done this before, but I can do it. 

Two – I may not have spoken in front of a large crowd but I am used to a live audience. 

Three – Looks don’t matter as long as I present myself well.

Four – I have handled a tough audience before..

Five – I am not that bad.

Six – I am good enough. I can definitely do it.

And the reframing helps her stop the self doubt and negativity. She is confident and ready for the day.

We tend to miss many opportunities because our thinking patterns have worn a groove of self doubt in our minds.Whether it is a child or an adult; all succumb to it at some point in their life. 

So, use the REFRAME technique to control your emotions and thoughts from overwhelming and overpowering you.

Read more: 7 Effective Ways to Beat Math Anxiety in Students: Tips from a Tutor.

2 Comments

  1. Anand Gothekar says:

    Exlnt Analysis of human behavior. Really started thinking differently. Hope this will give opportunity to open newer areas Like to read more from you. Thanks a lot

  2. Pallavi says:

    Awesome very much helpful..

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Vandana Bhargav

Human behavior has always intrigued Vandana which prompted her to formally study Psychology for her Masters. Since then she has been associated with the analysis, research and study of human behavior for over more than 12 years performing a varied roles of content developer, subject matter expert, life skills coach, researcher and documentation officer in various educational institutions and NGOs in India and US. She is the Founder of Empowered Insights, a Bengaluru based behavioral skills consultancy delivering workshops across different education settings with A vision to empower emotional skills to  teachers and students the way they understand, with the use of minimum resources”.

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