It’s one of those days.
You know, when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and everything that comes out of your mouth sounds like a drill sergeant. And, no matter what you do, you can’t shake that nasty negativity.
Or maybe your day feels like it’s slowly unraveling. It started out okay but you got into an argument with your oldest over the right way to format an essay. And then you felt horrible because your youngest is still struggling with learning how to read and you just know it’s your fault.
As a homeschool mom, your day can quickly get derailed. And you find yourself shrugging your shoulders, wondering what in the world happened and why can’t you get it back on track?
Mama, I know how that confusion and frustration can just rip you up! And how bad it sucks!
The good news is that you CAN do something about it. You can learn how your mindset affects your homeschool and how a skill like reframing can help you feel good about your homeschool day, even when life is busy.
It’s Not You-It’s Your Thoughts
Before we get to the nitty-gritty about the power of reframing, I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with you. Sort of.
Meaning, you haven’t done anything wrong to deserve this confusion and frustration. In fact, they’re common human struggles.
So, what’s the problem? Your thoughts. Your negative thoughts, to be more precise.
And those negative thoughts can be super sneaky, flying under the radar of your awareness. You’ve become so used to having those negative thoughts that you don’t even recognize how they’re affecting your reactions and feelings.
Those negative thoughts are like nasty weeds. You don’t realize they’re in your garden but they’re lurking beneath the surface, waiting for just the right situation to shoot up and take over. Left unchecked, those nasty weeds multiply and choke out the good.
And that’s how negative thoughts can hijack your functioning.
What Are Negative Thoughts & How Does Reframing Crush Them?
Let’s look at exactly what negative thoughts are and how they give you trouble.
Negative thoughts are also known as cognition distortions and irrational beliefs. Basically, these thoughts distort reality and get in the way of positive functioning. Your mind screws up your interpretation of a situation and how you react to it. It’s a form of self-protection that’s evolved from your personality and life experiences.
For example, instead of enjoying the overall success of your homeschool day, you focus on the one time your middle child gave you some resistance to doing his math lesson. It didn’t last long and all work finally was completed. But, you think, “Why couldn’t he just cooperate? It ruined the entire day!”. And, in case you’re wondering, that’s called filtering.
Another example of negative thoughts that commonly affect homeschool moms is “should”ing. “But, we should have finished all of our homeschool work today. All of our plans were perfectly lined up. I should have had better control!” Other ways we “should” on ourselves is using irrational terms like “must“, “can’t stand”, and “have to”.
Other types of cognitive distortions (negative thoughts) include things like needing to always be right, jumping to conclusions, labeling (or mislabeling), overgeneralizing, personalizing, and all-or-nothing thinking.
So, what’s a frustrated homeschool mom supposed to do? If these negative thoughts are so sneaky, can you do anything about it?
Absolutely and positively, YES!
There are several positive thinking techniques that you can learn and practice. A very powerful one is called reframing.
Reframing empowers you to take negative thoughts related to a problem and convert them into positive solutions.
Reframing to the Rescue!
Reframing (also known as cognitive reframing) is a technique that you use to shift from negative to more positive and realistic thoughts. You take a problematic situation and redefine it as a challenge or opportunity. You’re seeing something in a new way by pausing and readjusting your lenses.
Through reframing, you build resilience and a growth mindset. You experience a change in your inner and outer language, as well as overall vision. You’re practicing positive problem-solving.
For example, let’s say you’re freaking out over starting to homeschool high school. You knew this day would come but you feel totally inadequate. Negative thoughts stir up, like, “How can I teach chemistry? I’m not smart enough. High school is so much more intense and I’m scared. What if I fail my kids?”
Reframing helps you transform that stress by slowing down and giving yourself a positive reality check. You might break down this example by:
- How can I teach chemistry?: Well, I can see if our homeschool co-op has a class or looking into that online option I heard great things about. So, yeah, we can do this!
- I’m not smart enough.: Now, that’s just hogwash! I’ve taught my kids for how many years now and we’ve done just fine. I have my diploma and took a few college classes. I’m also smart enough because I know when and how to ask for help when we need it.
- High school is so much more intense and I’m scared.: Time to do some fact checking! Is high school really that more intense or am I making that up in my head? Maybe my kids will be more independent? I’m going to ask my friend who’s already homeschooling her high schoolers and check out Annie and Everything because her tips rock!
- What if I fail my kids?: Okay, what do I mean by fail? Does that mean they’ll have gaps in their education? Reality check-everyone does! Instead of swirling around in a sea of uncertainty, we can set goals together and work on their future plans.
That was a pretty complex example but, sometimes, our thoughts are even more layered! Negative thoughts are slippery little suckers but you can learn how to slow them down and make them work for you.
To get started with reframing, follow these four basic steps:
1. Recognize Negative Thoughts
You can find a printable list of negative thoughts and feelings examples at Eddins Counseling. You may discover quite a few examples that you didn’t even realize were having a negative impact on your life. Also, you may find that you need to add your own personal examples to this list.
It can be helpful to create a list of these words and phrases that you know you’ve struggled with in the past. Having a customized list of your common negative thoughts and feelings provides you with a great resource as you work towards a growth mindset!
2. Hit the Pause Button
When you detect a negative thought, hit the pause button. Sounds easy but this step takes practice! And please don’t get down on yourself if you don’t get them all. In fact, if you can detect just one negative thought the first day, you’ll have made awesome progress!
After you pause, take a cleansing breath. Now, specify which negative thought just popped up. Get as detailed as possible. If you can, write it down.
3. Challenge Your Thoughts
Now, it’s time for reframing! Ask yourself:
- Is this negative thought true? Would a friend say this about you-or would you say it about a friend?
- How often does this problem/situation actually occur? Is it really “always” or “never”?
- Who is really responsible for what’s going on? Is it really the politician’s fault (or you or fill-in-the-blank)? Or is it just a natural occurrence?
- Am I fortune-telling (trying to predict what’s going to happen without facts) or mind-reading (thinking I know what another person thinks with no basis for that conclusion)?
- Is my description of the situation accurate? Or am I overgeneralizing or minimizing?
During this time of reflection, you’re performing a reality check. And working to remove cognitive distortions from warping your thought process.
4. Replace Negative with Positive
When you’ve pinpointed the negative, it’s time to shift to positive thinking. Instead of “He must finish his German before lunch or we’ll never catch up!”, you’d reframe that situation with something like, “It would be nice if he’d get his German done before lunch so we can enjoy a fun afternoon. But, the Earth will continue to spin and life goes on if he doesn’t. And we’ll just get to that fun afternoon a bit later than I thought.”
Or instead of “I’m such a failure as a homeschool mom because my kids constantly challenge me”, you could reframe those negative thoughts to something like, “I’m so blessed to have kids that are smart and creative enough to think on their own. They’ve learned how to express themselves and fight for what they believe in. I’m doing a great job of raising kids who respectfully discuss issues.”
This step takes practice. And some days will be better than others. But, you can learn how to use reframing to help your homeschool!
How to Keep Up Your Reframing Success
If you know that reframing and other positive thinking skills could empower you as a homeschool mom, I encourage you to learn more about positive reframing and cognitive distortion.
Practice what you learn. It’s okay to take it slow. You’re chiseling away at years of built-up negative thinking habits. It might seem like only tiny shards are breaking off at first. But, as you keep practicing, those shards will turn into chunks of negative thoughts that you can hurl away.
Give yourself grace. You will have bad days. That’s life. If you have a bad day, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. And get right back on the path towards positive thinking by using your reframing knowledge and skills.
Keep a thought journal. The act of writing down your negative thoughts and transforming them on paper into positive is so powerful. This written record can be used to go back through and detect patterns and triggers.
The power of reframing can help you cultivate a positive mindset to boost your homeschool life.
What else would you like to know to get started with reframing?
Leave your questions & comments below 🙂