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Reframe Your Thoughts and Make Yourself Happier

“This weather is horrible. What a terrible Saturday. I can’t believe this weather. Thanks for coming to class today on such an awful day.”

Those were the statements made as I began my fitness class last week. Granted, it is a cool 40 degree day with rain on a day in April in the Midwest when we typically experience a sunny 65 degree day. We have had rain, snow, high winds and clouds, anything but warmth and sunshine for what seems like months.

This January, for my new year’s resolution or “intention” as I call them, I made a commitment to not let the weather: hot or cold, cloudy or sunny, windy or calm affect my mood and my day. Little did I know in early January that I would have to really put that mindset into practice several months later. I have seen it all too frequently, either in myself or others, we let the weather control our attitude, mindset and our day.

Here’s the deal – and it is not pollyanna thinking: we can’t control the weather anyway so we might as well make up our minds to not let it ruin our day. We are granted each and every day. Why waste a day wishing the weather was different? In some ways, I believe it actually is selfish. Selfish to throw away a day we have been given by negative talk, attitude and focusing on something we have no control over anyway.

Just like patients and clients we come into contact with – the ones that we may roll our eyes and think “not them again” – we may want to reframe our mindset. Don’t let the negative and challenging individuals “ruin” our day. I like to call this “giving our power away” to others.

Framing is a mental structure that is built upon the beliefs we have about ourselves, our roles, our circumstances, and about other people. It is the meaning we give to events: positive or negative. In other words, the meaning we attribute to any event is dependent upon how we frame it in our mind. Our frames shape how we see the world, how we see ourselves, how we view others, and how we interpret our life.

Valuable strategies to help shift your negative thoughts to positive ones.

      1. Visualize. When you wake up in the morning, imagine your day going well. No matter what you have scheduled put a positive outcome on it. Imagine your most challenging patient beginning to reach goals you have set together, or your co-workers smiling and greeting you when you arrive.
      2. Practice Positive Thinking. You may step outside and say, “The weather is awful.” Instead, look for three positive things outside as quickly as possible. The rain is making my flowers grow, the grass is green, it is a good day to stay inside and get some work done.
      3. Be aware of your automatic response. Are you the type of person that when you spill your coffee in the morning or get cut off in traffic your whole day is ruined? Or are you the type that focuses on the positives and lessons learned? Being aware is a key step towards choosing a different, more beneficial mindset.
      4. Use milder wording. This one is really easy, and you can begin it today. Words do matter, and if your thought is worded with a more mild negative, you won’t feel as bad. For example, if you were to think “Jim is so noncompliant and I hate working with him,” you would feel worse than if you thought “Jim is a challenging patient to work with.” Avoid labeling people. Listen to your wording and shift to a more mild comment.
      5. Start with a fresh mindset. Remember it is a new day and new conversation. Let the old memory go. Just because your last encounter with that patient was not positive does not mean that this will be the same experience. Expect something different.

Just like when you deal with the weather, learning how to reframe and shift your attitude and connect with those most challenging and reluctant patients/clients will your days be free of the ups and downs we often experience.

If you know of others, perhaps your leadership team or a friend, who would be interested in learning more or receiving this and other blog posts, please feel free to forward to those individuals.

If you are interested in bringing me to your organization for a refresh training or coming to a public training, I’d love to hear from you. Send me a comment or email at beckylang@icloud.com.

Tranform Conversations. Transform Lives.
Dr. Becky Lang

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“Dr. Lang’s training provided me with a better understanding of the motivational interviewing process. The skills I learned from her training have helped me feel more engaged and thoughtful when listening and talking with those around me. Dr. Lang is energetic, knowledgeable, passionate and provides a great learning environment.”

Nancy AdrianseBSDH, Oral Health Manager, Iowa Primary Care Association

“The training I received in Becky’s motivational interviewing class was invaluable. It laid a wonderful foundation for me to effectively empower my patients to develop and implement positive changes for their health. Becky created such a nurturing, nonthreatening environment that allowed me to freely learn and practice. This is certainly a class I can recommend to anyone wanting to learn to assist others with behavior changes.”

Robin GeorgeRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“At the YMCA, we have worked with Dr. Becky Lang for over a decade now to help us shift and shape our culture. As an organization committed to strengthening our community, the coaching and training skills that Dr. Lang has provided have helped us immensely. With her education and guidance she has helped us establish a culture that focuses on building meaningful relationships with our members, focusing on their needs, and coaching them towards success in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Lang has trained all levels of our staff from our front line Wellness Coaches to our Executive Directors and Leadership Teams. Her on-going support has allowed the coaching-culture to come alive in our organization.”

Kim Stewart Kim Stewart Director of Operations, YMCA of Greater Des Moines

“The training Becky provided has been one of the most rewarding nursing experience I have had in 30 years. The style of interviewing and teaching patients is rewarding and positive. Her techniques drive the sessions to be more personal and patient-centered. Through Becky’s teaching, I was comfortable to practice and get familiar with the motivational interviewing process. Becky is an exceptional trainer and I recommend her training to all health coaches and educators.”

Sandy LovelessRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“The motivational interviewing techniques Becky teaches allow patients to set goals and work toward changes that are important to them. Patients feel in control of their own health and allow me to be in a more supportive roll. Becky has a positive and uplifting spirit that makes her classes extremely enjoyable.”

Tyra CarltonRN, Motivational Interviewing training participant

“Rebecca Lang was a respected colleague who diligently served as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of students over her long career at Grand View University. I had the distinct pleasure to work with Becky and regularly witness her vocation to Wellness education. She motivates those around her by a strong and genuine commitment to a lifestyle which promotes health and well-being.”

Katharina TumpekPhD, Professor and former Chair, Dept. of Health Promotions, Grand View University

“It has been a pleasure to work with Becky Lang over the last 25 years. Within a variety of contexts in the wellness arena, I have witnessed Dr. Lang’s mastery as a wellness educator, a health coach, a professor, and, most recently, as a health coaching trainer. I could go on at length about Dr. Lang’s passion, enthusiasm, high energy, wisdom, and deep knowledge in health promotion and behavior change. One of the attributes that impresses me most, though, is her ability to create a relaxed, fun, interactive, and content-rich training environment. Her refreshingly supportive, inviting, and empathic style of training and coaching allows learners to take risks, experiment, try on new skills, and participate authentically in role play exercises without feeling awkward and intimidated. Through Dr. Lang’s coaching and training, people learn–often more than they imagined.”

Jill NorrisRN, MPH, PCMH-CCE, Director, Care Management, University of Iowa Health Alliance