There is a finer point about the LOA, positive affirmations etc which many people miss. This article examines the problem:
July 3, 2009 |
Think positive? Think again
WASHINGTON - REPEATING positive statements such as 'I am a lovable person' or 'I will succeed' makes some people feel worse about themselves instead of raising their self-esteem, a study showed on Thursday.
'From at least as far back as Norman Vincent Peale's (1952) 'The Power of Positive Thinking,' the media have advocated saying favourable things to oneself,' said the study by Canadian psychologists, which was published in 'Psychological Science.'
It cites a popular self-help magazine that advises its readers to: 'Try chanting: I'm powerful, I'm strong, and nothing in this world can stop me,' but says the practice doesn't work for everyone.
Positive self-statements make people who are already down on themselves feel worse rather than better, found the study conducted by psychologists Joanne Wood and John Lee of the University of Waterloo and Elaine Perunovic of the University of New Brunswick.
For the study, the psychologists asked people with low self-esteem and people with high self-esteem to repeat the phrase: 'I am a lovable person,' and then measured participants' moods and feelings about themselves.
What they found is that individuals who started out with low self-esteem felt worse after repeating the positive self-statement.
'I think that what happens is that when a low self-esteem person repeats positive thoughts, they probably have contradictory thoughts,' Ms Wood told AFP.
'So, if they're saying 'I'm a lovable person,' they might be thinking, 'Well, I'm not always lovable' or 'I'm not lovable in this way,' and these contradictory thoughts may overwhelm the positive thoughts,' she said.
Although positive thinking does appear to be effective when it's part of a broader programme of therapy, on its own it tends to have the reverse effect of what it is supposed to do, said Ms Wood, urging self-help books, magazines and TV shows to stop sending a message that just chanting a positive mantra will raise self-esteem.
'It's frustrating to people when they try it and it doesn't work for them,' Ms Wood told AFP. -- AFP
EXACTLY. The idea is NOT to tell yourself things which aren't currently true. For example, if you feel very frustrated about a certain matter, the correct approach is NOT to tell yourself "I feel great about it!" because you obviously are not.
The correct approach is to pick your way around your thoughts, finding more positive ways to look at your situation, which are genuinely believable
to yourself. And the way to know whether a particular way of thinking is more positive or not is to pay attention to your emotions.
Eg if a certain line of thinking leads you from feeling "very frustrated", to merely "frustrated", then that's a positive line of thinking. If another line of thinking then leads you from feeling "frustrated" to feeling "slightly annoyed", then it is also a positive line of thinking. And later on, you find thoughts which lead you from feeling "slightly annoyed" to feeling "calm", then that works too.
As you align your thoughts, your reality changes along with them, allowing you to push it gently, gently, gently into a more pleasing form. But the process is never about deceiving yourself about what currently is
true for you.