What is Negative Reappraisal?
Negative emotions are inevitable. But when we use negative reappraisal, we can reframe our experiences to make them less negative. Here's how.
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Negative emotions are inevitable. In fact, trying to suppress or ignore negative emotions actually reduces happiness. Instead of avoiding negative emotions, it's best to learn skillful ways of working with your negative emotions to reduce them or transform them into positive emotions.
In this activity, you will practice using an emotion regulation strategy called reappraisal. Reappraisal has been shown to both increase resilience and reduce negative emotions.
Negative reappraisal involves cognitively reframing an event as less negative. For example, let’s say that I dropped my sandwich on the ground and I have nothing else to eat for lunch. I might tell myself that I am better off than people in the world who don’t have any food. Or I might tell myself that it’s not so bad because I can get a snack later in the day.
Activity: Negative reappraisal
For this activity, you will get an example of an event. Practice reappraising this scenario as less negative. Come up with as many reappraisals as you can over the next few minutes.
A kid was making fun of me on the playground
What did people say?
Thank you to everyone who submitted your responses to this activity! We can now share some responses. Hopefully these will help you learn new ways to reappraise.
When someone makes fun of you, you could use negative reappraisal the situation by thinking:
Next time you come across a difficult situation, see if you can use negative reappraisal to defuse some of your negative emotions.
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.