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How to Reframe Bipolar Thoughts

April 8, 2022 Natasha Tracy

Bipolar can bring thoughts to your brain that are so negative and destructive, they can seem impossible to deal with, but you can work to reframe bipolar thoughts to fight back. Reframing thoughts won't fix the issue, per se, but can allow you to stand up for yourself against the bipolar disorder. This is incredibly important. Learn more about reframing bipolar thoughts here.

What Is Reframing Bipolar Thoughts?

The thing about bipolar thoughts is that they are not realistic or rational. They are depressed or manic or anxious and they are not reasonable. This is what makes them dangerous. It's the fact that they don't accurately relate to reality that causes pain and suffering. Reframing bipolar thoughts is the process of recognizing the thought as one that is related to bipolar disorder and reimagining it in a more realistic way.

How to Reframe Thoughts of Bipolar

Reframing bipolar thoughts take three basic skills: recognizing bipolar thoughts, isolating which thought to reframe, and reframing the thought.1

  1. Recognize your bipolar thoughts. You need to be able to watch the thoughts coming from your bipolar brain first. You might think of this as mindfulness and it can be done during meditation if you like. What's important is that you're aware of what you're thinking and, specifically, able to determine which thoughts are unreasonable and coming from your bipolar disorder.
  2. Select a thought to reframe. Truth be told, reframing is pretty much a reflex for me so I reframe many, many thoughts, but if you're just starting, try picking one troublesome thought to reframe. Start small for greater success.
  3. Reframe the thought. Basically, this means looking at the bipolar thought through a realistic lens. We know bipolar isn't based in reality, but, rather, in sickness, so we need to impose reality onto our bipolar thoughts. So, look for the reality of what's happening around you and what you have actual evidence for, and look at the thought again with that in mind.

Examples of Reframing Bipolar Thoughts

Depressed Bipolar Thoughts

Bipolar thought: No one will ever love me romantically.

Reframed thought: I am feeling depressed right now, and it and it affecting my thoughts. Even though someone broke up with me, I know there are many other people out there who are different and will mesh with me differently. Not every person fits with every other person.

The reframed bipolar thought here is a version of "there is plenty of fish in the sea," because, of course, there is. Out of the billions of people on the planet, it's not possible that no one will ever love you romantically even if it feels that way. The feeling is real, the facts, though, are different.

Bipolar thought: I am scum. I am the worst person in the world.

Reframed thought: I am feeling depressed right now, and it and it affecting my thoughts. I know that I am feeling bad about myself right now but I don't need to compare myself to anyone. I have both bad and good characteristics.

The reframed bipolar thought uses logic to remind the person that we are all a combination of good and bad -- not better and worse.

Manic/Hypomanic Bipolar Thoughts

Many people will choose not to reframe manic/hypomanic thoughts because they like them, If you choose this, this is okay, but you may find that reframing your manic/hypomanic thoughts can help you recognize this mood and help you proactively deal with it and prevent the depression that tends to follow. 

Bipolar thought: I am a genius.

Reframed thought: It is not reasonable to think that I am a genius today when I have never been one before. I am in a hypomanic/manic mood and it is blurring my own reality. 

Anxious Bipolar Thoughts

While anxiety is not actually a symptom of bipolar disorder, overly-anxious thoughts are common in those with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar thought: I know something bad will happen today.

Reframed thought: I can't predict the future. I know that I am feeling overly anxious right now because of my mental illness. Both good and bad things are likely to occur just as they have in the past.

The reframed thought uses logic and our own history to reframe the anxious thought.

Why Reframing Bipolar Thoughts Helps

Reframing bipolar thoughts allows you to more clearly see reality and deal with the world as it is. It prevents some of the harm that bipolar thoughts can do. The more we can moderate our own thoughts by seeing them as ill and reframing them, the more we can "see through" bipolar disorder instead of being caught up in it.

Source

  1. St. Bonaventure University, "Strategies for Reframing Negative Thoughts." Jan. 25, 2022.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2022, April 8). How to Reframe Bipolar Thoughts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, June 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2022/4/how-to-reframe-bipolar-thoughts



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Monica Canales
April, 28 2022 at 9:51 am

Wow! These were great tips for reframing my thoughts. I admit,my mind goes crazy,I put my self down so much,and because of my mania,I've done regrettable things. I wish I had recognized these thoughts earlier in life. I will continue to keep reorganizing and reframing my thoughts. Thank you so much.

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