The Negative Effect of Positive Thinking

An entire industry has been created and thrives based solely on the theories of positive psychology: self affirmations help to motivate, we are told, and they may even help those with low self-esteem build their confidence.

Now research is starting to show the opposite: that self affirmations (or ‘positive self-statements’) have a negative effect on those with low self-esteem.

Dr Wood suggests that positive self-statements cause negative moods in people with low self-esteem because they conflict with those people’s views of themselves. When positive self-statements strongly conflict with self-perception, she argues, there is not mere resistance but a reinforcing of self-perception. People who view themselves as unlovable find saying that they are so unbelievable that it strengthens their own negative view rather than reversing it. Given that many readers of self-help books that encourage positive self-statements are likely to suffer from low self-esteem, they may be worse than useless.

via Mind Hacks



2 responses to “The Negative Effect of Positive Thinking”

  1. I believe that people with low self esteem should try practice what self help books recommend instead of just reading them and not puting them into practice. Because they have helped me from one the lowest points in my life to become more than i can imagine.

  2. If you want an infogasm, google Marcial Losada and conceptualise happiness as a Lorenz butterfly.

    The above conceptualises happiness as a point along a straight line of more or less.

    Happiness is movement through space – shifting by the second. A real infogasm.