You Do the Math

I admit that yesterday was not my best day for dealing with a discount airfare company. After several attempts to book a flight online, I called the company’s customer service number, and well, I lost my patience. I tried to remain calm and even-paced in working through the overseas language issues and essentially being told a lie, but I could feel my words intensifying with a sharp tone. “This is not working for me. This is not good business. I’ve already wasted 45 minutes . . .” I barked before harshly hanging up.

I felt a check in my spirit as I was winding up to tell the ticket agent how incompetent his company was, but I ignored the pestering nudge. Instead of bridling my tongue, I let it gallop across a pasture of justifications. How dare this reputable company brush me off? I have a right to fill out all my address and credit card info, press “agree and book,” and have everything work smoothly. Blah. Blah. Maybe you’ve swirled in a similar expectation game where your words morphed with sharp edges.

Recently a close friend shared her principle of using words and a kind demeanor to ADD to someone’s life vs. SUBTRACT from this person. Yesterday, I did not ADD to the customer service person’s life with my impatience and tough-girl tongue. I regret that I SUBTRACTed from his day and perhaps his favor with the boss. Sigh. Today is a new day to be more intentional about the beneficial rule of ADD and SUBTRACT. Math was not my favorite subject in school, but this type of buildup or teardown equation counts for peaceful relationships and a joyful countenance no matter what circumstances jostle into our days (even malfunctioning websites).

“May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my defender” Psalm 19:14 (God’s Word).

Wouldn’t it be wild if we had to use a calculator at day’s end to ADD up the positive, helpful words we thought and spoke to others? One thousand one, one thousand two . . . .

Brave and Resilient Tip #132: Make your words count each day for ADDing to others’ lives.

Let’s Talk

No Sticky-Note Words

Q. Some words people say to encourage just seem empty – almost fake. Could you talk about that?

A. Let’s Talk! Yes. You are so discerning! Words are meant to carry meaningful messages. We hope we are giving reflective and non-hurtful messages, but in that effort we can also be guilty of giving seemingly positive but empty messages. Our messages must be tethered to substance and truth, or they are in the category of a sticky note or temporary patch. These messages can be hurtful too if they are artificial, give unasked-for advice, or wound.

I have seen this occur most often when someone is in a difficulty, and friends don’t want them to hurt, so the friends offer common positive phrases that actually wound. Examples are: “I know just how you feel and things will get better.” Or, “Time will take care of this.” Or, “Just think about this (or memorize this).” Slam dunk, hit and run. Hurting people need empathy, not a “get it together” message—no matter how positive it may sound. Positive is not always helpful! In fact, sometimes it feels like the one with the “positive” words is actually talking down to the one who is hurting. The subliminal message is, “I know what to do next and you don’t!” Think about it! Words sure matter…

I hope that you have been chewing on or thinking about your words this week! Thanks to several of you who sent in some Rs to add to my list last week. I have listed them below:

From Martha : Refire. Remain (until you are endued with power from on high.). Relate. Redirect. Refurbish. Reevaluate.

From Jesse: Respect Yourself. Self-Realization. God-Realization. Personal Responsibility. Retreat when in Reaction. Renaissance. Revitalize. Hit the Refresh button often. Return Home (Heart). Respond. Rejuvenation. Relax. Relaxation. Reorganize.

For Deeper Reflection

Proverbs 12: 18 “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 15: 2 “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.”

Proverbs 18:13 “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”

Proverbs 25: 11 “Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

James 3:5 “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at


Let’s Talk

Favorite R Words

Q. Could you talk more about self-talk and how important words
are to us?

A. Let’s Talk! I have had a fascination with language for decades. I have seen first-hand as a counselor, the power of words spoken or unspoken and their impact on people. On a personal level, I have—and you have—experienced the devastation and destruction when toxic words come to you or when you speak them yourself. Even worse is to tuck these hurtful words away in your heart.

We just finished chatting about depression and reframing our thoughts, words, and messages that have gone south. Discovery of these thoughts are huge pieces of our recovery. Help that comes after the discovery of toxic thinking becomes the next part of our healing.

As some practice for listening to our words, I thought we could think about some R’s this week. I have been thinking all week how much I like R’s, especially Re’s. Some examples for starters are:

Resilient (as in Brave and . . . )        Recovery        Rescue        Restoration        Reconciliation          Repair        Rebuild          Reconstruction          Rebound          Respond          Release          Renew        Revive          Reverse          Reframing

Can you feel the hope in these words as you read them and say them? Isn’t it stunning the effect that words have?

Refresh us all with your own encouraging R words. Please add some uplifting R’s to this list this week and send them in the Comment section below. I can’t wait to add your enriching self-talk words to my own list!

For Deeper Reflection

Isaiah 58:8, 11, 12 “. . . and your recovery will speedily spring forth . . . and the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

Isaiah 61:4 “. . . and they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations, and they will repair the ruined cities. . . .”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at