“Don’t forget to _____….”

How many times have you heard – and said – that sentence? Probably a ton, if you’re an average person. It seems innocuous enough, just a gentle reminder to keep something in the front of your mind. However, if you are a natural skeptic or struggle with lack of self-esteem or self-worth, you might see it this way: “You assume I will forget unless you remind me.” Even if the speaker had no malicious intent whatsoever, the skeptic sees a more negative picture.

Truth be told, it’s not just those who struggle with mental illness or low self-esteem that see the negative first. To a degree, everyone is susceptible due to the external influences we all encounter. How many news programs have had to carve out a special “good news” section? They have to do that because so much of the standard news broadcast is bad news – crime, natural disasters, political arguments, the local team going down to defeat again, social media/school bullying, and on and on. I’ve had enough of this, you think. I’m going for a drive. But on the road, what George Carlin once said becomes reality: “Have you ever noticed that everyone that drives slower than you is a moron, and everyone that drives faster than you is a maniac?” Before you know it, you’re neck-deep in road rage, even if you never get out of the car to punch someone. The negative atmosphere is everywhere.

So what can we do? We can fight back with positive words. I heard a Toastmasters presentation several years ago that talked about the power of positive direction. The presenter had a half-full glass of water. While you’re expecting the standard “half-empty vs half-full” point to be made, he said, “My doctor told me to drink one of these every day. Right now the glass is half-empty. That’s a good thing, because it shows I’m halfway to my goal.” His point was, what is your mindset? We often have a negative mindset. One of the best ways to change that is to re-train the mind by intentionally using different words.

This came to my mind as I was listening to a podcast the other day. The podcaster said “don’t forget to” several times while listing some action items. But at the same time, she said “be sure to” when listing other action items. I thought back to that Toastmasters presentation, and did a Google search of “positive vs negative words.” As with any Google search, there were a gazillion things that came up. (Side point: Has there ever been a Google search that came up with zero or one page of results? You’re right; probably not.) Check out this list of commonly-used negative words along with positive words you can use to replace them:

Negative              Positive

Afraid                   Curious

Anxious                Eager

Boring                   Consistent

Criticism                Advice

Disgusted              Surprised

Exhausted             Re-charging

Failure                  Learning

Greedy                 Enjoying

Gullible                 Trusting

Hot & Bothered     Glowing

I hate                   I prefer

Nosey                  Attentive

Overwhelmed       In Demand

Pain                     Awareness

Picky                   Quality

Problem              Challenge

Sick                    Cleansing

Stressed             Maximized

Terrible                Different

Weird                  Unique

Also, based on my podcast experience, replace “Don’t forget to” with “Be sure to.”

In the next post, we’re going to take this from words to state of mind.

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