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Beware of a Critical Spirit
 By Dr. Neil Nedley

In my stress control seminars I give an assignment to the participants that, ironi­cally at first, they usually find to be stress­ful. The assignment is to refrain from saying anything critical about anyone or anything for a minimum of two weeks. The ground rules are stared in Figure 16.

Fortunately, the seminar spans eight weeks because virtually everyone finds it necessary to begin again the second day. Some may requite a third or even a fourth beginning. The first few days are very stressful. However, when the two weeks are suc­cessfully finished, no one as yet has ex­pressed regret regarding the assignment. In general, participants feel that it was a re­warding experience that helped to change their outlook on life and encouraged them to focus on the good.

This does not mean that criticism should never be offered. The class exercise is simply calculated to help people become more aware of their habits of faultfinding. It is designed to demonstrate to the par­ticipants that, with effort, they can control their acts of criticism and thereby realize benefits to themselves and others.

Certainly, criticism can be beneficial if it is appropriate, constructive, and tactfully given. However, much of our criticism has its roots in a negative attitude. Worse still, we often are critical of things over which we have absolutely no control or influence. Such criticism damages ourselves and oth­ers. Furthermore, it tends to foster nega­tive attitudes in those around us.

Nearly 100 years ago, author Ellen White captured the essence of such con­cerns in the powerful counsel to fellow Christians stated in Figure 17.

I cannot help wondering how much better this world would be if we all followed the counsel in Figure 17.

Christian recommendations for dealing with Criticism