When you write in a journal or similar “tool” in your progress toward whole health, watch for words that have negative and positive content. Notice your habits of positivity and congratulate yourself for a good habit. Habits of negativity are trouble-makers. “NO” and “Never” are obvious clues. Also watch for “critical statements” such as:

“If I (you, s/he, they) had only…”

“But if…”

“Can’t you (I, s/he, they)…”

“I (he,she, you, they) (ought, ought not, should, shouldn’t, must, or must not)…”

“You always…”



Where we find a negative pattern, we can change the tone and pattern by deliberate positive thinking.

“If s/he had only…” can become “We all make errors in judgment. What has happened has happened. What can we learn from it? What can we use for good?”

“But if…” can be “and if…”

“Why…?” can be “What…?” or “How…?”

“I ought, should, must…” can be “I would like…” or “I will…, if possible.”

“Don’t…” can be “I would like for you to…”

The Power of Focus

“Can’t you…” can be “What can you and I…?”

“You always…” can be “Frequently, you…” or, preferably, point out what is happening to the other person at the time or as soon as possible afterward.

When my focus is on “you” and “what you ought to,” I lose sight of myself in the situation. By turning the focus to myself and my options I increase my power to change the situation from negative to positive. Of course, there are situations, such as emergencies, in which my only option, other than prayer, is to tell you what you can do to avoid danger. “Look out! Duck! Run! Don’t!” are all examples of appropriately telling others what they should do in an emergency. Training children and students are also appropriate opportunities to tell them what they ought to do.

Being critical is a good quality, and essential for some types of occupations. We contribute to stress in ourselves and others, (family members, students, employees), if we focus our criticism on the negatives while ignoring the positives. When criticizing, whether we are talking to ourselves or to someone else, it is encouraging to hear about the good things. To acknowledge the positive aspects of the situation and of the person’s behavior helps us, and them, to keep a more healthy perspective.

“I’ve been going over the check book figures, dear. (“Oh, Oh, here it comes!) Every check has been entered this time. (“Good!”) I didn’t have to take time hunting a missing check. The subtraction is right on all but two of them. (“Now, it comes.”) I finished the reconciling a lot faster than last month! (Whew! What a relief!)”

Each of us can focus more clearly by using the word “I” instead of “You” when expressing a personal thought or feeling. Secondly, we can maintain a clearer focus by asking others who are using the word “You” if they are speaking for themselves. A clue that they may be, is knowing that what they have said is not true for you! If you do not think or feel what they say you do, clarify that by saying so. We are less apt to “lose ourselves” or just float along with the current. It helps each of us to be clear about what our own thoughts and feelings really are. In psychological jargon, this helps people “know their boundaries.” When we know our own boundaries, it is easier to help others discover their boundaries.

…you have listened to Him and been taught by Him according to the truth in Jesus: That you are to rid yourself of the old nature with your previous habits, ruined as it is by deceitful lusts; that you be renewed in your mental attitude, and that you put on the new nature that is created in God’s likeness in genuine righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:21-14 Berkeley Version


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