I’ve always thought the positive thinking crap and most CBT was detrimental to my mental well-being. I know it helps some people but I’ve carefully avoided it for years, while every now and then revisiting it just in case I might be missing something. At this point though I know it’s not for me.
Now I’m talking pollyanna bullshit. It is of course a good thing to think positively but if you really feel like shit, I think it pays to pay attention and take yourself seriously. There might be something you need to attend to by BEING REAL. Not by pretending all is dandy.
I might add, I don’t think all “self-help” books should be lumped together here. They speak of one kind in particular here where affirmations are encouraged.
In general I think when one tries to force changing the way they think and feel it’s a denial of themselves. So it makes sense to me that it would hurt rather than help.
Canadian researchers found those with low self-esteem actually felt worse after repeating positive statements about themselves.
They said phrases such as “I am a lovable person” only helped people with high self-esteem.
The study appears in the journal Psychological Science.
A UK psychologist said people based their feelings about themselves on real evidence from their lives.
The suggestion people should “help themselves” to feel better was first mooted by Victorian Samuel Smiles 150 years ago.
His book, called simply “Self Help”, sold a quarter of a million copies and included guidance such as: “Heaven helps those who help themselves”.
Self-help is now a multi-billion pound global industry.
The researchers, from the University of Waterloo and the University of New Brunswick, asked people with high and low self-esteem to say “I am a lovable person.”
They then measured the participants’ moods and their feelings about themselves.
In the low self-esteem group, those who repeated the mantra felt worse afterwards compared with others who did not.
However people with high self-esteem felt better after repeating the positive self-statement – but only slightly.
The psychologists then asked the study participants to list negative and positive thoughts about themselves.
They found that, paradoxically, those with low self-esteem were in a better mood when they were allowed to have negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts. (emphasis mine–read the rest here)
In other words self-acceptance is more important than trying to change what you think or feel! Read Jayme’s piece to see how this can really work.