Labeling Positively


How can I positively label or categorize a person's self, their deepest motives, their inner values and capabilities even though I may find their outer behavior harmful?


In contrast to labeling negatively and making judgments about the person, labeling positively is choosing to use positive categories to evaluate and find good in the situation that brought about your frustrations, anger and other values violation reactions after leaving the situation where your values were violated. You may be by yourself or with a partner or partners.

Take your time to engage in positive labeling about the situation and your frustration in a different context . . . one that is positive and comfortable for you. The purpose is to bring about your healing related to what happened in the situation and how you reacted to it. Positive labeling is a method of healing for those whose tendency under stress is labeling negatively.

What to do:

A good way to start is to review what happened and recognize any negative labeling you might have done initially in response to the situation. Then be aware that you can use the same thinking process, turned positive, about the situation and your frustrations with it. For example, see the positive motives and intentions underneath the behaviors that led to your stress. Remember the positive actions the person may have taken in the past, as long as you have known the person. Imagine what stresses that person may be under that led them to do what they did. Then think deeply about your values, what you want and the alternative reactions and responses you could use to create a win for all concerned.

Conditions for appropriate use with others:

If you analyze the situation with a partner, that person needs to agree to listen and be supportive to help you deal positively with the situation. Furthermore, your partner, needs to be someone not immediately affected by the person or the situation.


Labeling positively allows you to use positive categories to analyze a situation that has violated your values in some way. With or without an appropriate "partner" you can heal your hurt and stress without continued negative labeling. That will help you preserve relationships with people in the situation. Once you have sufficiently healed, you can begin planning and designing ways to deal with the situation productively, whereby you, the others involved and the organization all benefit from what you do. The alternative is to react immediately, before healing, and the likely result is to do harm.