Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life
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Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life

If you’ve lived any sort of length on this planet we call home, you’ll realize that tons of people have differing opinions on things.

This is because “reality is negotiable”.


Meaning, most things in life are subjective, meaning they are up to the interpretation of the viewer.

This article is going to teach you how to re-frame your thoughts.

This article will also show you:

  • Why situations change depending on your mental attitude
  • Different mental re-frames you can use for different situations
  • How to maintain a positive mental attitude most of the time

Self-Image Psychology 101

Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life

Re-framing has its roots in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is the art and science (some say pseudoscience) of training your brain to produce positive outcomes.

NLP allows you to understand how the brain retrieves and stores information organizing it into a logical sequence (pretty helpful, you think?).

Paradigms and Predominant Mental Attitudes

A paradigm is how a person organizes sensory information derived from their five senses into a consistent pattern.

For example, every adult knows that a stove is hot when it is turned on. A child doesn’t know that. So what does the child do? Touch it, of course. The child then gets burned and learns “not to touch the stove when it’s on”. This has been integrated into their paradigm (hot = pain).

That’s a minor example. Something with more gravity would include being social and talking to potential strangers.

As a child, you may have been taught that the world is a dangerous place with dangerous people. You were taught that there are people out there who want to take advantage of you and you should always use “the buddy system” and not to go anywhere alone.

When you’re a child – this paradigm is fine. But what happens when you get into your 20s and start to emerge as a young adult?

If you still have this paradigm, it will be almost impossible for you to be social. You won’t make new friends. You won’t make new business contacts because you won’t network. You’ll be socially isolated.

Your paradigm will also influence your predominant mental attitude.

If you were taught that the world is a dangerous place and you never examined it, you will have a predominant mental attitude of fear. This fear will show itself in everything you do in subtle and overt ways.

If carried far enough and long enough, fear can also manifest itself into a debilitating form of social anxiety.

All of this – from a paradigm that started from childhood.

Many people who think of themselves as “introverted” are not really so. They are socially anxious and/or shy.

Cognitive Re-Framing and New Paradigms

If the mind can be likened to a garden where the seeds of thought can be sown, then mental paradigms can be grown or uprooted, just like a garden.

Some mental paradigms take time to flower and bloom, other mental paradigms are hard to uproot because they have their roots so deep in the ground.

Instead of uprooting the paradigm completely, you can reframe it so that it serves you instead of hampers you.

One mental paradigm I like to personally use when I’m faced with trials is “life is a test to see what you’re really made of”.

Is life a test? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how you look at it.

Instead of using bad things as a shorthand method to put myself down, I use them as fuel for the fire of achievement.

If you can do this to any situation you face, you will be damn near unstoppable.

That’s thinking positively and thinking powerful thoughts.

Quantum physics and cognitive re-framing

Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life

Did you know that what we consider “solid” isn’t really “solid”?

It’s been proven that 99.9% of matter is “empty” space.

That’s wild, isn’t it? You might be asking – “what is that empty space?

That empty space is energy. Pure energy. Atoms, the fundamental building blocks of matter, configures itself the instant it is observed.

It can appear anywhere and everywhere simultaneously.

What does this mean for re-framing situations?

That means that there is virtually nothing truly objective in the universe. The way you see things is based on your state of mind.

Simply put – if you think bad, you will see bad. If you think good, you will see good. That’s the way the world works.

This is the fundamental essence of the Law of Attraction, which is related to re-framing but is beyond the scope of this article.

For now, I want you to realize this: you can’t get strawberries from tomato seeds. You will only reap what you sow.

If you think you’re done for – you are.

P.S.: Two good books to check out on this subject are the Power of Awareness and the Elegant Universe.

Re-Framing Techniques and Changing Your Mental Paradigms

Re-framing techniques are intended meant to shift your mindset from a negative to a positive mental attitude.

You can take any situation – any situation whatsoever and make it work out in your favor. It’s easier said than done, but here are some of my favorite re-frames I use to keep my mindset positive most of the time.

The “Enthusiasm” Re-Frame

Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life

Enthusiasm is one of the most important qualities any person can possess. It is marked by a lively interest in a subject or line of work.

People who are enthusiastic have the entire world at their fingertips. They throw themselves into everything they do wholeheartedly – and bring others along for the ride.

To be enthusiastic, you need to maintain a high energy level. This can come from:

  • Eating the right foods
  • Being well-rested
  • Exercise
  • Feeding your mind with positivity

It’s very hard to think negatively when you’re enthusiastic.

Unstoppable Tip: Find something in your life right now that you can be enthusiastic about. It may be the weekend, your job, a hobby…whatever it is, you most likely have something. Use it to spur you to greater heights.

The “Gratitude” Re-Frame

Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life

Gratitude is being thankful for what you already have. Most of us live in a world of abundance. We have clean clothes, food to eat, beds to sleep in. We don’t think about these things but how many people don’t have these things?

The reason why many of us find it hard to practice gratitude?

We become so accustomed to our lives that we spend most of our days on autopilot.

Our brain is designed to become quickly accustomed to our environment so that it uses up less energy than necessary trying to reorient itself to its environment.

That new car we bought soon becomes the same old car. That new girlfriend we have soon becomes a nagging bitch.

This is why consumerism doesn’t work.

We spend our lives trying to acquire new things and once we have them, we reset back to the same levels of happiness. This is known as the “hedonic treadmill”.

Unfortunately, we don’t know how good we have things until we lose them.

Here’s an example of gratitude from my own life:

A few years ago, I had to put my dog down. I first got her when I was 5 years old and she saw me grow up and graduate college. It was incredibly hard. I wish I could have spent more time with her, but I was incredibly grateful for the time I did spend with her and the love I was able to show her and she to me.

Unstoppable Tip: We are designed to be dissatisfied, but never ungrateful. Want to increase your baseline levels of happiness? Practice gratitude. Give thanks for every single thing you have. Your parents. Your health. Your ability to think and reason. Clean water. Bountiful food. It will give you a rush of energy when you think of all the things you have to be thankful for.

The “What did I learn?” Re-Frame

Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life

There are many moments we all wish we could do over, especially having the knowledge we have now.

This is fine and all, but these moments, no matter how small contributed to who we are. We have also learned a lot of things from these moments that we know for sure not to repeat again.

Unstoppable Tip: Instead of focusing on the mistake or the embarrassment, think about the good. You ask yourself: what did I learn here? What piece of valuable experience or emotional content did you get from that experience?

The “The grass is greener” Re-Frame

Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life

There are the unfortunate times when we find ourselves afflicted with that green-eyed monster – envy.

No one wants to feel envious, but envy comes about when we feel as if we have been wronged or we’re falling behind in the race of life.

We look on our Facebook feeds and we see that guy we went to school with who has the super hot girlfriend with a kickass car and a fucking awesome job.

But is it really “fucking awesome” or does it just seem that way?

  • The grass is greener on the other side of the law because envy makes it look greener.
  • That guy with a super hot girlfriend? He might want out of the relationship.
  • That guy with an awesome car? He may struggle with the car payments for it.
  • That guy with the great job? He might be working 55-60 hours a week on the verge of getting fired.

Nothing is as good as it seems on the surface and there’s always a deeper story.

Unstoppable Tip: Instead of feeling envy, feel unabashed happiness for these people. There’s enough misery and despair in the world today that if someone is experiencing happiness somewhere, that’s a win. Your mind can’t hold two thoughts/feelings at the same time. You can’t be envious and happy for someone at the same time.

The “Pain into progress” Re-Frame

Cognitive Re-Framing: 5 Mental Paradigms to Drastically Improve Your Life

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it will last forever. – Lance Armstrong

I encourage everyone and anyone to read the biographies of people who we consider to be great.

You’ll find out they were just as human as the rest of us. The difference being: they used their pain to push them to greatness.

They used their emotional anguish, their despair, their internal negativity as the raw fuel that created the fires of achievement.

We will all go through periods of pain, of trial, of torment, of trouble. The difference is: what do you do with those periods?

Unstoppable Tip: Use whatever pain you’re experiencing at the time as a way to grow. How can you push past whatever limits you have in your mind about who and what you’re supposed to be?

Reality is negotiable

Productivity hacker Tim Ferriss said, “reality is negotiable”.

What he means by this is: what you focus your attention on grows.

You can choose to make everything in your life serve you.

You can choose to let adversity turn you into a solid man.

You can choose to let heartbreak teach you great lessons that will inform your future.

All of this requires constant awareness, constant vigilance, in order to see it through.

Integrate one of these frames into your worldview and use it so you can start kicking some serious ass.

I want to hear from you: have you used NLP and re-framing before? Let me know in the comments below.


  • Shiv

    January 28, 2018

    Beautiful article and such power-packed thinking. I admire the maturity for your age.
    Am a family man and should say i have been living the grind, but your articles infuse positivity and helps me makes some small changes which makes life interesting. Thanks for the timely kick in the back to reframe again. I guess i have used NLP in certain parts of my life when i used to hit auto-pilot mode. As you rightly say, gratefulness gives you a purpose and makes you appreciate the things which we take for granted.

    • Sim Campbell

      January 28, 2018

      Thanks for the reply, Shiv. I am so glad you got some great content from the post!

  • Siddhesh

    January 29, 2018

    I read one of your answer to a quora question,I liked it so much and visited this website of yours,got to admit it was the wisest decision I made . Your content is all packed with great and powerful stuff!

    • Sim Campbell

      February 1, 2018

      Awesome! Glad to hear you get great value from it!


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