When I first heard the term 'Critical Thinking' it was as a teenager during a Watchtower study. The study went on to elaborate how we shouldn't be swayed by critical thinking. There was no explanation that the term didn't mean 'to criticize' thoughts and words, but rather that it means 'to objective think and to evaluate thoughts and words'.
When we the word 'critical', we automatically think the worst. If someone thinks critically of us, that is not a complement. If someone is considered critical, that is derogatory. It isn't usually thought of in the sense of a 'critical care unit', where people are looked after more carefully than when they are in a normal hospital ward.
Maybe we as a group could use a different term when we speak to our still in family and friends, a neutral or more positive expression such as: Essential Thinking, Accurate Thinking or Careful Thinking would have more positive connotations. Especially since the Borg uses the term Critical Thinking like it's a swear word.