From Negative to Positive Thinking

In the July 3rd blog post I announced that I would be taking my usual summer reading break and not post any INsights & OUTbursts until September . It’s good to be back.

The Reading
For the past two months I focused on reading widely, checking out books by authors new to me, stretching my mind with new ideas, and following mental paths I have not trod before. As part of our daily devotional and prayer time, my wife, Jo, and I read a book together that God used to stir up some things that had long been dormant in my mind. The author focused on Philippians 4:8, in which the apostle Paul urges us to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.

The Discussion
Jo and I talked about our attitudes concerning numerous types of activities that married couples do in life together: sharing chores, having discussions, hauling garbage, maintaining vehicles, praying together, mowing lawns, cooking meals, making love, vacuuming floors, raising children, following a diet, planning vacations, and shopping for groceries, etc.

The AdviceThe Advice
Jo pointed out an area of our life together where I had sometimes expressed dissatisfaction, bringing up memories of negative experiences. She suggested I think of some positive memories instead. I immediately saw the wisdom of this, and after praying together, I started a Positive Highlights to Remember file to combat negative memories from the past and undesirable thoughts in the present.

The Remembering
I described in anecdotal form every good, positive, true, praiseworthy, and pleasant experience I could remember enjoying in this particular area of my life. Since I intended to read some of the anecdotes when I was tempted to focus on the negative aspects, I wrote with vivid detail, including as many sensory areas as possible. I felt quite pleased when I finished writing and noted I had racked up nearly 2,000 words.

The Writing
Later that day, while on my regular solitary walk, several more noteworthy incidents popped into my mind. I jotted down these good memories that the Holy Spirit awakened and dredged up from the deep past to present to me. By the end of the week, the well seemed to have run dry. I had written well over 7,000 words—all clear memories of positive experiences in an activity that, until then, I often tended to think about negatively.

The Therapy
Since then, I have read and reread those anecdotes, thanking God repeatedly for the privilege of enjoying these experiences. Currently, I am sharing them with Jo, one or two at a time, and we are happy that this therapy is working. When Satan brings up something negative in this area of life, I counter with one or two highly positive incidents and he takes a hike.

The Results
Although I have no plans to publish this project, it has already made a difference in my life and my relationship with Jo, which says something since we have been married well over 50 years.

How I wish I had started collecting and writing positive remembrances many decades ago!

(Note: This post is adapted from an article Writing for Therapy not for Publication which I wrote this summer for a professional writers’ blog.)

2 thoughts on “From Negative to Positive Thinking

  1. What a great discipline to practice–really putting Phil 4:8 into action. I will do this, too!

  2. Hi Jack,
    I really resonant with what you shared about writing down positive memories. I, too, sometimes dredge up negative memories and the undesirable thoughts often catch me totally off guard. I would like to learn more about writing down the positive thoughts and using them to combat the negative ones. Can you possibly share your Writing for Therapy article?

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