Challenges or Opportunities?

Challenges or Opportunities?
business man with blocks saying it's possible

Challenges or Opportunities?  

CAHELP eNews | November 2019 | Issue #12

When it comes to reframing the mind, who’s job is it anyway? Learn how to visualize the world from the student’s perspective.


My mom didn’t come home last night, and my big brother and I got in a big fight, but I’m still excited to go to school today. I get up and go to take a shower, but I remember too late that the water heater is not working. I’m cold, but able to wash up and look for something to wear. The laundry isn’t done, so I look for the best option I can find. I noticed my brother passed out on the couch with what looked like liquor bottles everywhere. Mom is going to be upset. I pulled out a bowl of cereal. Perfect! There was just enough of my favorite left. I poured a bowl only to realize the milk was spoiled. No big deal, I will eat it dry today. I grab my backpack and head out to ride the bus to school. As I walk out, I see my mom pull up with a stranger in a car I’ve never seen before. She gets out and walks right past me as I start to greet her. I get on the bus and remember I forgot my homework at home. I quickly ask the bus driver to let me run home and grab it, but he shuts the door, and we drive off. I sit down around the back area of the bus and just want to cry. I stop myself when I remember what my teacher Mrs. Wiggman told me yesterday. "You had a great day today Cody, I'm going to bring my football from home tomorrow and during recess, you and I are going to play catch, does that sound like fun?"

Mrs. Wiggman

My kids were up all night with growing pains or something and my head feels like there is a nail lodged in the middle of my forehead. I got up to take a shower and remembered the repairman said it would take two weeks to replace the water heater. No big deal, I can handle a cold shower, besides, getting two kids ready for school in the morning leaves you little time for a nice shower anyway. I quickly get my kids ready and drive them to daycare with breakfast in hand. We’re about halfway to the daycare when my daughter realizes she forgot her “he helps me smile when mommy isn’t here” bear at home. I'm going to be late and I don’t have time to turn around. She starts to cry uncontrollably, so I quickly turn around and go back home to get it for her. Now I am going to be even later. As I start driving to work, I get a phone call. It's my doctor. He proceeds to tell me that I need to come in for more testing as my blood results didn’t look good. I still have no idea what's going on, but my anxiety starts to build. As I pull into the parking stall, I turn off my car and just want to cry. I get to my classroom and quickly unload my bag when I notice a football. I can’t help but smile. I remember the promise I made Cody yesterday.

Quick Tips

As a professional servicing students, it is important to consider who is responsible for a perspective change. When presented with a situation, we generally automatically assign meaning to the situation. Sometimes the meaning we assign is positive and sometimes it is negative. When we change the way we think and feel about situations by using reframing techniques, we can lessen the impact of stress on our minds and bodies. Here are some techniques to reframe negative thoughts:

  1. Examine What's Stressing You. What aspects of your situation are stressing you the most? What needs do you have that are not being met? Where do you feel a lack of control?
  2. Look for What You Can Change. When you reframe, you change your perspective on things. When looking for what you can change, brainstorm for as many possibilities as you can, without judging right away if you can or can't do them. Instead of thinking, 'I wish I could change this,' or even, 'Can I change this?', try thinking, 'How can I change this?' You may not be able to change everything, but with a positive reframe of the situation, you may see possibilities you weren't aware of before.
  3. Look for Benefits. If you're in a situation you truly can't change, or if there are aspects you can't change, you can reframe your thoughts and change the way you feel about it by finding benefits in the situation you face. What opportunities might be found amidst the rubble? What strengths might you have gained by simply working through this? When you're looking for benefits, it doesn't mean you gloss over negatives; you simply notice positives as well and focus on them.
  4. Find the Humor. Have you ever felt that someday you'll look back at this and laugh? Why not let that someday be today? When you reframe for humor, you find the aspects of your situation that are so absurd that you can't help but laugh. You can often turn the most stressful aspects of a situation into the funniest. Find humor in a stressful situation and feel the benefits of laughter as you reframe your way into a good laugh.

Additional Resources

5 Tips to Reframe Negative Thoughts As a Teacher

How to Use Positive Reframe Strategies for Stress Relief