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The Negative Consequences Of Positive Thinking - Self-development
The Negative Consequences Of Positive Thinking - Self-development

Video: The Negative Consequences Of Positive Thinking - Self-development

Video: The Negative Consequences Of Positive Thinking - Self-development
Video: Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck) | Alison Ledgerwood | TEDxUCDavis 2023, March

Do you still believe that positive thinking will help you achieve your goals and get rid of negativity, insecurity, and stress? But some experts seriously doubt this.

Psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen with colleagues from the University of New York and the University of Hamburg has released a brochure with the telling title Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation. In it, she reports in detail on 20 years of research on positive thinking with 88 students from various courses and specialties.

The researcher believes that the benefits of positive thinking are greatly exaggerated, while the harm, on the contrary, is underestimated

“Is positive thinking really as dangerous as I say? She asks in the pages of her essay on the popular psychological portal Aeon. "Actually, yes." The point is that positive thinking is based on the idea of the best outcome (up to celebrating an achievement, which in fact does not yet exist), which in reality weakens motivation, and does not induce action.

In particular, one of Ottingen's experiments concerned the personal lives of students. All survey participants sincerely wanted to have a close relationship with the opposite sex. Scientists suggested that they continue the story with an imaginary evening party, where they supposedly met people they liked. The guys practicing positive thinking ended their story unequivocally: the couple left the party under the envious glances of fellow students. Another part of the subjects was more realistic in presenting probable outcomes. Practice has shown that a year after the experiment, the percentage of those who actually managed to establish a serious relationship was higher among realist students than among positivist students.

Similar experiments were carried out in other spheres: in studies, in a career, in family relations (a total of about 12 similar scenarios). And everywhere the same correlation was found between a person's positive attitude and his real achievements.

Those who dreamed of the most advantageous scenario for the development of events, achieved less and, as a result, even became a victim of depressive states

Researchers tend to draw direct parallels between the mental and physical state of the subjects. The fact is that scientists found lower blood pressure in participants who were prone to positive thinking. It is important to understand that high blood pressure tells us that the human body is ready for action, that the individual is full of vital energy and is eager to fight. Such an agitated state requires a greater consumption of oxygen and nutrients, which leads us to an analysis of the work of the cardiovascular system.

In other words, all those who for a long time devoted themselves to fantasies about a bright future were not just relaxed, but almost lazy, that is, they were clearly not ready for any actions on the way to the goal. Consequently, even with motivation, their results left much to be desired, turned out to be below high expectations, which, in turn, became the cause of stress and psychological discomfort, devastation, and depression.

At the same time, the author of the study not only criticizes the practice of positive thinking, but also gives his own recipe called "mental contrasting".

Dividing 168 female students into four sections, the researcher and her colleagues asked one of the groups to reflect on a positive outcome, another on a negative outcome, a third - first about obstacles and then overcoming them, and the fourth - a key group - about the benefits of a positive outcome and options for overcoming difficulties. … It is in the latter group, whose activity is based on the method of mental contrasting, based on positive reinforcement, but with the subsequent study of problematic points, the percentage of those who achieved their goal reached 80%. In the other groups, it barely reached 30%, although in the third group, as at first it seems, we also see a method of opposition.

Thus, the scientists have clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the mental contrasting method, and in particular the MIPP exercises - "Dream, Exodus, Obstacles, Plan" (in the English original - WOOP: Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan). What does it mean?

It is fundamentally important to first formulate a goal (it is necessary that this is not an abstract dream, but an achievable value), visualize a positive outcome, suggest possible obstacles and write a plan to overcome them

Thus, you can not only motivate yourself, but also maintain the incentive for a long time. For people prone to mood swings or depression, this option is much more viable, because it sets the pace for achieving a goal, gives an understanding of the stages of approaching a dream. In the case of simple positive daydreaming, such methodical stimulation is absent, which often leads emotional and impatient people to crises and breakdowns.

One more conclusion follows from this: the MIPP exercise, in principle, can improve the emotional background of a person with mild or moderate depression, since it constantly nourishes him with energy and instills the desire to act.

Of course, Oettingen warns that “MIPP is not a miracle cure against depression, or even a substitute for an optimistic mood,” and therefore invites everyone to intelligently combine a variety of modern methods and exercises to achieve harmony and permanent motivation.

Photo: © Syda Productions / Photobank Lori

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