This tricky monkey's methods include:
- Seeing the situation from different points of view
- Seeing the humor in a situation
- Trying to see the value or learn something from a difficult situation
- Changing your perspective on the problem
- Using denial or distancing oneself from the problem
- Alter the way you think about a problem by altering your goals and values
This approach uses glasses that help you judge things to make them easier to cope with. Life events such as traffic jams and spills on the carpet aren't problems unless we appraise them as such. If our appraisals are realistic, we're better able to react to day-to-day life events with a sense of proportion.
The appraisals we make (or the glasses we see through) are generally close to belief system we grew up with. If we hold unrealistic, inflexible beliefs then our appraisals may not always help us cope with stress. Also, irrational beliefs that include 'musts' and 'should', with an emphasis on perfection can make our lives harder. Sometimes we know where our appraisals help us and where they don't. "I must be liked by everyone" and "Everything always has to be neat and clean" are irrational and impossible beliefs to attain.
Is it possible you and your monkey can get you new glasses? Yes, it is possible to change irrational beliefs. First identify them, then reframe them. Suppose you are driving in the car and someone cuts you off at the intersection. It's easy to say, "That person is horrible, they are so inconsiderate" or "This town has terrible drivers".
An alternative interpretation could be: 'I wonder what's happening with that person for them to behave so rudely? Maybe they had a sick puppy on the floor of the car that I couldn't see and they are trying to get to the vet as fast as they can. If I knew that, I wouldn't have responded in the same way.' We have the choice how to frame our perceptions. In addition to these 'primary appraisals', it's important to develop 'secondary appraisals' when we ask ourselves afterwards if there's anything we can do about a life event we've appraised as stressful.
If we feel helpless to change things, or incompetent when facing challenges, then we're less likely to come up with a suitable coping response.