What is Reappraisal—And How Do You Do It?
Reappraisal is an important skill for boosting your well-being. Learn what reappraisal is and how to use reappraisal to improve your emotional experiences and your life.
*This page may include affiliate links; that means I earn from qualifying purchases of products.
What is Reappraisal?
Reappraisal involves cognitively reframing an event to reduce the negative emotions you feel. 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. Or maybe I tell myself that it’s good I dropped my sandwich because it will help me stay on my diet.
The goal is to talk to yourself in ways that make you feel better about yourself or the situation.
Why is it important to build reappraisal ability?
When we change the way we are thinking about our experiences we don’t let life’s slings and arrows get to us as much. We are able to see challenges as opportunities and begin to view our lives in terms of strengths instead of weaknesses. An ability to successfully reappraise enables us to reduce negative emotions and open us up to experiencing happiness, even during difficult times.
How to practice positive reappraisal
By practicing finding the benefits of past event, experiences, or challenges, you can strengthen your reappraisal ability.
To practice reappraisal, start by writing out a list of things you learned from a past failure. For example, if you missed an important deadline, maybe you learned that you need to prioritize better, delegate more, or tone down your perfectionism.
Ask yourself these questions to help you reappraise:
Here's a video to help you learn more about reappraisal
Activities to develop reappriasal:
There are actually two types of reappraisal: Negative reappraisal and positive reappraisal. These focus on slightly different strategies. Try both reappraisal strategies to see which works best for you.
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.