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May 27, 2024

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, founded by the Quakers, established in 1837, is the oldest historically Black college.

Turn a Negative Behavior Into a Positive

POSTED: July 24, 2009, 12:03 am

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We have all made promises to ourselves to change a negative behavior, like no more McDonald’s French fries, I swear! Or more dire challenges like being impatient with your mother, getting defensive with your husband, or yelling at your daughter for just about every thing. You have come to the decision to make a change because others have asked you to or you are decidedly sick of your behavior and recognize this is not an example of your best you.

Have you noticed, like many resolutions or promises you’ve made in your life, that you have abandoned them and quickly gone back to the old way of doing things? I will venture to say that this often happens because you don’t have a plan for change. You don’t have a plan for what to do instead of yelling or being impatient. If you want to change a behavior, before you attempt, think long and hard, step-by-step on what actions you will take instead.

Focusing on the behavior you would like to change is not enough, you have to want the change, be ready for the change, that includes a plan for what to do, and your focus really needs to be on where you want to be. Positive thoughts will get you to where you desire.

Most of our undesired behavior is rooted in habit and the way we have always done things. It may even be deeply rooted in the way our parents responded to things. These behaviors are truly difficult to turn around. As with an addiction or habit, you need to deal with each interaction moment-to-moment and day-by-day. You have to slow the movie down, that is your life, so you can “see” the thing that your mother does and why you react with impatience. Be “in” the moment so you have an opportunity to breathe, to think, and to phrase your response before putting it out there.

Before this, take some time to really ponder the way you would like to relate. What does that look like? What would you say instead? Maybe, it’s even a great idea to share with your husband your desire to be with him in a way where you no longer feel the need to defend. He may be able to support you in the change.

If you have questions or comments on changing a negative behavior contact Sandra A. Daley at or visit her at

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