Jan. 12, 2021

E49: The Power of Cognitive Power Reframing

In this episode I talk about the power of Cognitive Reframing and how to change your self-talk around trauma, healing, and more.
You can listen on iTunes here:https://www.linktr.ee/michaelunbroken
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In this episode I talk about the power of Cognitive Reframing and how to change your self-talk around trauma, healing, and more.

You can listen on iTunes here:https://www.linktr.ee/michaelunbroken

Buy my book on Amazon or at https://www.linktr.ee/michaelunbroken

Follow me on Instagram @MichaelUnbrokenThis episode is Sponsored by Think Unbroken Academy.,

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Reframing in Trauma Healing

So much about this healing journey is recognizing and understanding the power that we give to the words that come out of our mouths and those circulating in our heads. The definition of Reframe is: frame or express (words or a concept or plan) differently. Words are one of the most powerful assets we have in healing because they control so much about what we understand about ourselves. So often, I say that we are the stories that we tell ourselves because it's true. Everything that we know about who we are comes within the framework of how we speak to ourselves, and let's be honest here, trauma survivors have to heal negative self-talk to heal trauma. I think that is at the baseline of recovering from CPTSD. In essence, can you change your mind about the way that you are currently speaking to yourself?

Cognitive Power Reframing is about being binary in how you speak, as in, the statements that come out are either true or false, there is now maybe, sort of, kind of, or I don't know. The point in using Cognitive Power Reframing in negative self-talk around trauma healing is so that we don't get trapped in The Vortex of the gray area. 

Much of our framing around positive self-talk is within the foundation of understanding our wants, needs, interests, and values. If you aren't sure what that means for you, I suggest you start with reading Think Unbroken as I dive into how to create, understand, and define the parameters of your life. 

As with what we learn in Think Unbroken Academy and in the process of overcoming childhood trauma, we must solidify and fortify our understanding of what we learn. This is the same reason that writing your goals and taping them to a wall, and reading them every day is so powerful. What you will do next is an exercise in framing and changing your self-narrative by flipping your current understanding of who you are to create the person you want to be. 

Here is how it works: You will create ten statements that position your understanding of who you are in the framework of who you want to be. 

Most people will say I can't achieve this because I am always overwhelmed, it's too much, I can't because I don't have time, etc. Those people always fail; why? Because without knowing, they have already permitted themselves to fail. The moment that you put any barrier or boundary in your way, then you have lost. We do this subconsciously and often sabotage ourselves without even realizing just how we speak into the universe. 

If your current frame of understanding what you are capable of is "I am a person that is always overwhelmed, etc. Then it will hold true that you have already created a barricade in your life.

To reframe this understanding into a Power Frame, then you have to step into making false statements true, even though they may not be true yet. In part, you are retraining your brain to understand a new narrative and challenging your understanding of who you are in this moment. By understanding where you are right now, you will create a gateway to where you want to be.

Example of a binary Cognitive Reframe: I am a person that does not get overwhelmed; this is a true or false statement, there is no room for negotiation here, a declaration has been made.

You realize that it is not as simple as writing a sentence, and poof, change happens, but a new baseline is created from here. What happens next is that you leverage this newfound reframing to create a pathway to making it true. A straightforward way to do that is to challenge yourself to read that reframing to yourself 20 times a day. Since you are a person that knows healing requires challenge, you have to decide that no matter what, every day you will read this 20 times because you do not get overwhelmed to the point where you don't have the time to read it. Does that make sense? The other action you can take is creating a roadmap, goals, scheduling your day, and learning about time management. 

You see, Cognitive Power Reframing isn't only about the what and how of self-talk but also about the action on the backside, which makes these binary statements true.

Challenge yourself to write 10 Cognitive Power Reframes, put them somewhere you can see them, and read them every day until it becomes true. Then, do it again. 

If you need some inspiration, here are my 10 Best Cognitive Power Reframes:

10 best trauma reframing statements

My Cognitive Power Reframes

My Cognitive Power Reframes


  1. I am a person that does not get overwhelmed.

  2. I am a person that will do anything within my value systems and the law to obtain my goals

  3. I am a person that will not use my trauma experiences to determine my self-worth, values, self-talk, or beliefs.

  4. I am a person that puts honesty and integrity above everything else.

  5. I am a person that will learn whatever I must to understand what I currently do not.

  6. I am a person that puts healthy food into my body.

  7. I am a person that asks for help when I need it.

  8. I am a person that does not judge myself with guilt or shame but moves towards understanding the root cause of my actions.

  9. I am a person that will always risk making a mistake over asking, "What if"

  10. I am a person that is patient and willing to sacrifice to make my dreams a reality.

CPTSD Podcast Cognitive Power Reframing Transcript:

Hey, what's up unbroken nation. I'm Michael Anthony author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma. And today I'm going to talk to you about something that was really profound in my journey of healing, and that is cognitive power reframing. 

Now, as you know, I believe that if it's true, that the things that we say to ourselves, the stories that we tell ourselves are true, then wouldn't it make sense that the power of the words that we use are the one thing that we need to have control over. 

Think about this. How often have you put yourself in a position of saying, I can't, I won't, I shouldn't, I'm not capable. And then how often have you put yourself in a position where you flip that and go, I can think about the difference that has happened in your life where you've put yourself in a position to be successful before even take an action. So much of that relies on the words that we are saying to ourselves. 

How many times have you been in this position where you say I can't and thus it doesn't happen, or you say I can, and it does. Think about the things that are really important to you. The things that you want, the things that you want to accomplish, the way you want to live your life. And as you've moved towards those things, how often it's come true that you achieve those goals, whatever they may be. Because you've already predetermined in your mind that you are going to move towards those things to accomplish them. Whether it's, you know, having a healthy relationship or getting a degree or getting that job you want, or buying a car or shoes or whatever that thing is, often when we start with the mindset of I can, we achieve that goal.

Now, sometimes you have to parlay that with patients, and a roadmap and coaches and mentors and the whole nine, but when you've made that declaration to yourself moving towards is much more easy and more possible to reach that goal. Whereas if we say I can't, I won't, it's not possible, chances are you're not going to move towards that at all. 

One of the most fascinating things about reframing is that with the power of words, we get to start to take control over our lives again.  Negative self-talk and I’ve spoken about this many times, just consumes us. 

We grew up, we're told we're never going to be capable enough. We're never going to be good enough. The world doesn't love us. We don't deserve it. And when those things sit with us, what comes true? That story until we reframe it. And I’ve talked about negative self-talk many times, so I'm not going to dive into that today. But what I want to talk to you about instead is the process of reframing and what that really means. 

So much about reframing is about taking what you understand about who you are right now on this moment and flipping it on its head effectively telling yourself a new story. It's 180 degrees shift of where you were to where you want to be. 

Now, the most important part of reframing is doing it in a binary way. Meaning it is true or false statement, so that there's no gray area. It doesn't get murky, right? When you make a straightforward binary statement, there's no room for negotiation. 

Now I recognize that as you move through this, having a statement and moving towards it also means that in this given moment, it may not 100% be solidified and fortified in you. And it may take some effort to get to that place. That's okay, because this is about moving forward in a new narrative versus being stuck in our old thought patterns. 

So let's say for instance, I say that I am a person who doesn't get overwhelmed. Now, that is true. That is actually one of my power frame statements. I am a person that does not get overwhelmed. Does that mean that overwhelming things don't occur in life? Of course they do. You know, the car gets towed, the dog gets sick. Your wife leaves you, the job fires you. Whatever that thing is, there's always something that feeling of overwhelmness and also in work at, you know, another project, another employee, another this, another that there's always going to be more and more and more and more and more. We understand this about the world that there's always going to be more. There's always going to be more on our plate and as technology advances and as the state in which we work changes, that's going to continue to hold true. 

That said, I am not a person that gets overwhelmed. I'm a person that does not get overwhelmed. Okay, now you're probably thinking, okay, that sounds all fine and dandy, but how does that actually hold true? Here's how it holds true. Because by making that statement, I automatically put my brain in a position to allow myself the space to move into the idea that being overwhelmed is not allowed in my life. It is a cognitive decision that I don't get overwhelmed. That is not to say I don't get frustrated. That's not to say that I don't get in this place where I need to take a break. But I don't get overwhelmed. And if I'm reaching that threshold, in which that feeling of, I am overwhelmed, I'm going to collapse comes; I stop. Because it is true that I'm a person that does not get overwhelmed, so that an impart is taking agency and allowing myself the space to be cognizant of that. My brain says, okay, nine more things just got thrown on your desk, another client, another this, another that, whatever it may be pause, you know, I don't fully understand this idea of people working themselves to death all the time. Yes, it happens. But does it have to? You will catch me in the middle of the day, just stopping because I am a person that does not get overwhelmed. 

Now, how do you get to that place? You also have to think about all of the parameters around that statement that also have to hold true. Meaning I have to have a calendar that I schedule from start to finish throughout the entire course of my day, so that there's no surprises and I also leave time for the things that I need to do or accomplish.

Now that's a part of it. The other part of it is can I learn how to do effective time management? What is it that I really need to understand about utilizing time, that puts me in a position where I don't get overwhelmed. The other part of it is can I put myself in a position to leverage doing only the things that absolutely need my attention, think about this. And this is only from my work perspective, how often do you get an email? And you're like, why am I even responding to this? Secret, I don't respond to them. Why? Because they probably don't matter. 

Now that said, what you have to do is determine that for yourself. The parameter in which this exists is going to be different for everyone. And that is just simply an example of one of my reframing. And I'm going to go down some more with you here that I actually just wrote. Because I think about as we are on this journey, and you've heard me talk about the power of writing many, many times in order to understand where you want to go, you have to understand where you are right now.

And so I'm constantly taking measure, constantly taking inventory of the place that I am in my life at this moment, so that I can move towards these goals that I have that are 30 years down the road. Because I recognize that part of this process of reframing is patience and execution. Because it's one thing to say it to yourself, and it's another thing to move towards it every single day, no matter what, and that is so much of what this journey is.

It is like, can you put your feet on the ground and go forward every single day within the parameters of your wants, needs, interests, personal values and boundaries. And if you don't know those, if you have not defined those things yet, what I want you to do is read my book, think unbroken, because I actually dive into each one of these bit by bit to explain how you create a narrative and understanding around those. Because I believe that those are actually on the forefront, understanding your wants, your needs, your interests, your values, and your personal boundaries, those are paramount to creating a framing of who you need to become. Because so often as trauma survivors, we have not declared what those things mean to us because we haven't been given agency and permission. I've talked about many of those things previously, go check that out. But before you step into power framing, I would suggest that you do so. I'm not saying you can't step into power framing, but I think that it's a little bit more helpful when you have other parameters already set-in place. 

Now that said, I want to dive into mine while also explaining to you why I wrote them and why I created these power frames to give you a little bit of background in examples that will help you do this yourself. Because here's what I want you to do at the end of this. I want you to stop whatever you're doing. Grab a piece of paper and write 10 power frames. And the reason I want you to do this is because of the importance of this is about reframing. How do I cognitively reframe the understanding of the person that I am, despite the trauma that I’ve been through, despite the pain that I’ve been through, despite the world always seeming to be on my back and do a 180 and step into the idea that I have agency to live the life that I want to have. It's so incredibly important. Because I’ve talked about reframing. I wrote a chapter of it in the book as well. You know, I’ve talked about it in other episodes and it's so important. Reframing is so important. 

I was sitting with [09:29 inaudible] the other day. And he challenged us. He said, write 10 power frames. And I had had these for years. And realistically, I hadn't updated my own reframing in a long time. And so I sat with this idea last night and I wrote these things out and I said, okay, I understand this about the person that I am today, while also recognizing that in time, these will change. And so I'm going to take this understanding that I had yesterday from participating with Tom and share that with you, because I’ve stepped into this many times. I've talked to him about it many times, but it's fresh for me. And I want to explain it to you in a way that can be palatable and practical for you. So let's dive in, I'm going to explain each one of my power reframes, my cognitive power reframes here. And then what I'm going to do is explain why, because I want you to start thinking, I want the ball to start rolling in your head about how you position yourself to change the way that you think about yourself right now. So this is actually my notebook. This is how I write them in there. There are words somewhere. Maybe you'll see them. Maybe you won't, but I'm going to read them to you. 

So one, I'm a person that doesn't get overwhelmed. Now, this has been one of my reframes for probably five or six years, because I recognized like when I stepped into creating think unbroken, at the time, it wasn't think unbroken. It was called beast 1080. And it was something else before that. It was that and parlaying that with another job and dating and life and therapy and health and all these things. And I was like, Whoa, you got a lot going on here. You need to figure out how to navigate the world. And so not getting overwhelmed became paramount to all of my success because not only am I in this mental health journey, which I still am. I tell you this all the time. I will always be, but I'm in this position of trying new things, discovering stuff about myself. That in its own right, can be very scary and very overwhelming. So I made the declaration that I will not get overwhelmed. I am a person that does not get overwhelmed. And because I made the statement, it held true. I rarely, rarely, rarely if ever hit that breaking point where I'm like, Whoa, pause, timeout on everything. 

And the reason is because I’ve put the parameters around time management, I’ve put the parameters around, understanding what it is that I need to accomplish. What's important, what's not, and more so listening to myself. In these moments where I'm like, I need to take a break, I take a break and don't work myself to death. 

Number two, I'm a person that will do anything within my value system and the law to obtain my goals. Many of you know my story, when I was a kid, I did whatever it took to make money. Sell drugs, break the law, break into houses, steal cars, or enough guns. I did a lot of things that were super illegal because I needed something, whatever it was at that time to reach this goal. And that goal sometimes was just like giving my grandma extra money for rent or for electricity or whatever that thing may be. But also it was like, I'm going to steal her car and go drive to Kentucky one night with my little brother. Because like, that's a goal that I had. Not recognizing at the time, like that's not only immoral, but I didn't have the value system in place at the time to say, that's not really what I want to do. 

And so now what I think about is how do I make sure that I move towards my goals at breakneck speed, no matter what all the time, while maintaining my value and not breaking the law. Because it came true for me, that I had to reframe my understanding of what was acceptable. 

Number three, I'm a person that will not allow trauma to determine myself worth, value or beliefs. Now, this one obviously holds super true. I always say that though trauma is our foundation, it is not our future. And I mean that, and I mean that in the deepest sense of it. Because, you know, we are set up for failure and in statistically, just because of the zip code that I grew up in, I should be dead or in jail. And yet here I am, I'm talking to you today. And I think about the power that this carries in my life. And knowing that once upon a time, now it's been a long time since, but once upon a time, everything in my life was dictated and determined by the trauma experience. It was always the fulcrum. It was always the leverage point for why my life was a disaster. 

So now I refuse to let that be a part of it. Does trauma impact me? Yes, of course it does. I always have to do the work. I always have to do my yoga, meditation, therapy, journaling, all the things. But that doesn't mean it gets to determine what happens in my life. 

Number four, I am a person that puts honesty above everything. Now, if you've listened to old episodes and especially about values, you know that my number one value is honesty. And with this reframe, this has held true for so long now, that it's something that I want to always leverage. Like I think about some of these reframing is here. They will go away in time because they will adapt. They will adopt. They will, you know, basically you'll become a symbiotic. And this one's important because I don't ever want it to go away. Honesty is my number one value. Being this person of integrity is my number one value. Being able to understand myself in the world through truth is number one to me, it is most paramount. Because I grew up lying and lying was a necessity. I had to lie to survive, but I don't have to do that anymore. So I want to make sure that I never step into that pathway again, because it's dark, it's gross, it's dangerous, it's hurtful. And honestly, honesty is what I want in my life. 

Number five, I'm a person that will learn whatever I must to understand what I don't know. This is really twofold, right? One it's about not judging. Not putting myself in a position where I look at the world and I go, I have a certain belief about this thing because I'm uneducated in it because I think that is one of the biggest mistakes that we make in society. I don't want to do that to myself. In fact, I refuse it. That's why it is one of my reframes. I do not want to ever be like, I think I understand this to the point that I can make a judgment without fully understanding. And the other part of it is like, I want to be the learner, and I'm straight up stealing this one from so many of my personal growth allies here on the world is that I want to be a learner. 

I have, since I was a child read ad nauseum, like always consuming information. I love learning, which is an interesting juxtaposition and consideration that I hated school. But I love learning about what I love to learn about. And right now, I mean, it's a couple of weeks into the year. I've already read three books. I'm trying to read 50 this year. I've done it before. I'm going to try and do it again. Because I believe that if we can learn, if we can understand more about who we are, we can have a greater impact on the world. 

Number six, I'm a person that puts healthy food into my body. Now, if you follow me at all on social media, you would've saw that the other day I posted a before and after photo of me at 350 pounds versus me at 210. And that is a very big difference. And the reason why this is one of my reframes is because I am a person that puts healthy food in my body as a choice. It is a declaration that I am making that has been a part of my self-narrative for a very long time and much like honesty will always be there, because I don't ever want to be morbidly obese again. I don't ever want to have so much disdain for myself that I refuse to care for myself, which happens so often to people. 

And this is so important for my journey, for my healing, for my health, for what it is that I want in my life, that I'm always going to make this a priority. And of course I could always add diet and exercise and all those things. But I think about this, I can put healthy food in my body every single day, real natural unprocessed food, not Cheetos and chocolate cake and gummy bears, which I do love. Don't get me wrong. If I can put that healthy food in my body, then I can perform better. I can be a higher performer for all the other things that matter in my life. 

Number seven is, I'm a person that asks for help when they need it. This is so true. I spent so much time not asking for help that it became a detriment to my life. It was so bad that I would be at rock bottom and refuse to ask for help. Cause I thought it was weak. My understanding, and I’ve shared this before, is that asking for help is one of the strongest and most powerful things that we can do because vulnerability is at its essence, what makes us communal as human beings and no one who has ever done anything great has done it on their own. And I want to also be that person. I want to be great. Like I know that within me, like that is something that I want per my definition of what that means. And because of that, like I recognize that I have to ask for help. I have podcasts guests on, I have people that help edit my book. I have, you know, all of these communities that support me and when I reach out, reach back out, and that is important to me so much because I don't ever want to be the person who is too scared to ask for help. Knowing, knowing, knowing that it's a detriment to my goals and to who I want to be. So ask for help. 

Number eight, I am a person that does not judge themselves with guilt or shame, but moves towards understanding the root of my actions. I mean, that one's pretty straightforward, right? I mean, we as trauma survivors get buried in guilt and shame and embarrassment of the experiences that we've had and that transmutes into adulthood where we still have those same experiences and emotions. We feel guilt or shame about just being present, about existing, about breathing, about moving amongst the world. And I don't want to be that. I refuse it. 

And so when I make a mistake, when I do something outside of character, because I am a human and that will happen. And anyone who says otherwise is full of shit. To be honest with you, we are all going to make mistakes. Even as defined as we try to get, even with all of our values and all of our goals and all of the things we write and all the things that we do, there will always be moments and when we stepped back and, in those moments, I don't want to judge it. I don't want to feel guilt about it. I want to feel shame about it. I want to understand it, and I want to understand it so that I don't do it again. For years and years and years, it was about guilt. It was about tripping. It was about everything is your fault and you're a loser and all this negative self-talk. And now I think about that and I go, that is not in line with who I am as a person, with my values or any part of that. And so, because of that, the thing that I know to be true is that I need to understand it. 

Number nine, I'm a person that will always risk making a mistake over questioning what if. This to me is about fearlessness, right? Growing up, I was so afraid to be myself. It was literally beaten out of me, this idea that I was allowed to have agency over my own life. And so I was walked on eggshells, I talked on eggshells. I was never allowed to freely move about the world. And I made a declaration to myself years ago. It was when I got serious about traveling the world, that I was going to take risks, that I was just going to go for it. It's the same way that I ended up riding a 40-foot wave, or it probably wasn't that big. It might have been 20 feet. But it is huge to me because I don't even know anything about the ocean. I'm riding this wave in Indonesia and having this amazing life experience, eating street food in Vietnam, going to Kuala Lumpur, being in Mexico, Jamaica, traveling the world, like going to all these places, all these experiences, learning so much about myself, through the place of being uncomfortable about risk and just going for it

And I think about this a lot. On my death bed, I don't want to have any regrets. I don't want to have any what ifs, I'm going to go for it. I'm going to always step into it because so much of life was taken away from me as a kid. I didn't get a live a childhood. I didn't have one. I had trauma and abuse and suffering and pain and torment. And now like, how can I have joy and fun and expectation and reality and things like that. What does that mean. 

And finally and this one, and again, there are no particular order, but I am a patient. I'm a patient. I hope I'm not a patient. I am a person that is patient and willing to sacrifice to make my dreams a reality. This is so true. This is so true. You know, I’ve mentioned this so many times. My goal is 30 years down the road, this idea about helping a million people move through the vortex to become the hero of their own story. Like while that number is unimportant at this point, the goal of just helping and helping and helping and helping and stepping in and doing things like this and creating this content, having the interviews and writing the books and doing the podcast and having the, like all of it, it's about, can you take something away from this today that makes your life better? Because I have discovered that in my life, it is incredible. Like it is incredible the life that I have now, knowing that I came from nothing. And it's not saying that it's not hard because it's always hard. Every day is a challenge. Every day is my routine. I talk about this, but my dreams are so important to me that I'm willing to do whatever it takes. And part of that is patience. We live in a very strange society where we have the expectation that it will happen now. That somehow in this moment, you're going to be given everything that you ever wanted. When the truth is it might take 30 years to get it. And so I put this parameter on myself and I said, I'm going to do think unbroken for the next 30 years. I don't know what's going to happen between now and then, but I'm going to move towards it every single day, knowing that I want to build this thing into something that is impactful globally. And how do you do that? You start with this right now and in time that will redefine itself. And that will grow and that will change. But it's about, can I move forward? Can I make that dream a reality? And when I go and I look at my goals and I read that goals worksheet, my reality is going to be possible because that dream is something that I’ve laid out. So I always know what direction that I'm moving towards. 

Now, I challenge you because this is fresh. It's right now, you're listening to it. Take a piece of paper and write out 10 statements that start with I’m a person that. Now of course, you know, you can write whatever you want. But I would suggest that you think about the place that you are now versus the place that you want to be. Do that 1 80 and move towards it with trust, with hope, with patients, with this idea that you can have that life. Look, no part of this is easy. I get it, and I understand how difficult it is. I understand how tedious it can be. I understand that place where you wake up, you put your feet on the ground and you're like, I don't want this right now. But the question is, what are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? Nothing great is going to come easy. We know that. I wish it weren't true. If I could just give you everything and make your life perfect, I would. But I can't. And so what are you going to do about it? 

My friend, thank you so much for hanging out, for listening, for being a part of the unbroken nation. Please do me a favor and like, subscribe, comment, leave a review, please it would mean so much to me. Share this with a friend, check me out on social media. I'm at Michael unbroken everywhere and check out my book, Think Unbroken - understanding and overcoming childhood trauma. I've said that wrong in four podcasts in a row. Like I didn't write the book, check out my book, Think Unbroken.



Until next time my friend…

Be Unbroken,


Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.