I would say that I hate to be a spoiler,
but I don’t.
I just can’t see it that way.
I don’t hate the bubble busting notion anyway. I would rather have you live a life where you actively blaze the trails of most value to you.
Ubiquity of Positive Thinking “Marketing”
I did a few searches over the last few days. The results are below.
- Change your thoughts – 239,000
- Change your thinking – 276,000
- Positive affirmations – 378,000
- Positive thinking – 3, 170,000
- Affirmations – 4,570,000
Even worse is “The Secret” at – I am even flabbergasted with this one — 117,000,000. Where I grew up, a secret was something that on ly two people knew, and one of them was dead. Doesn’t it seem that if there were a secret that actually made people successful – I mean a really simple one – an end to poverty would be in sight.
Alan Watts wrote about what it took to be a guru way back in the 60′s. I recall two moves he mentioned. First the guru would keep his followers strung out by saying something like, “You’re getting it, but you’re not quite there yet.” And the requirement for getting there was often to fill the guru’s coffers just a bit more.
Second, similarly, in any of these positive thinking cult orientations, the idea is that if it isn’t working for you, you just aren’t doing enough of it. Again, often coffer filling would help. Haven’t you ever noticed about these cults, there a few at the top and others just never seeem to quite get there?
I am going to get into trouble with the positive thinking police, but this whole thing about affirmations and positive thinking and the ‘Secret’ and the ‘Law of Attraction’ is bullshit. And I’ll probably get in trouble with Google for saying bullshit.
I was on Twitter and there was a tweet from a coach (who I genuinely hope is successful and happy) that said -
“My health, strength and fitness are at optimum levels. I look and feel great.” — an affirmation, of course.
If there were a person who was ill, and, sadly, looked like crap, and knew it, would saying this change anything? Sorry, but it would not. In reality, research shows that the attempt to counteract negative thoughts, images and feelings actually wedges them a little further into the psyche.
I wish it were so simple.
Far as I can tell, there is nothing wrong with a positive outlook on the worlds we see.
More power to people who naturally see the world in a positive light. There are, I venture to say, many like that. For them, positive thinking isn’t an affirmation; it is how they see the world. Maybe that’s you. Are the majority of us like that? When the excrement hits the oscillating blades, do we all say (to mix a metaphor), “Oh good, lemons, let’s make some lemonade.”?
Speaking for myself, as a self-appointed committee of one, let’s leave that at no. I am not alone, though. From Dr. JoAnne Wood
But are positive self-statements actually beneficial? In an experiment that will be published in Psychological Science, Elaine Perunovic, John Lee, and I tested this idea. We recruited people to participate in our study based on their scores on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, which has 10 questionnaire items such as, “I feel that I have a number of good qualities.” People who scored in the lowest third of the distribution of Rosenberg scores (low self-esteem) and in the highest third of the distribution (high self-esteem) were invited to come to our laboratory, where we randomly assigned them to one of two conditions. We asked participants to either repeat to themselves the statement, “I’m a lovable person,” (positive self-statement condition) for four minutes, or to write down their thoughts and feelings (control condition) for four minutes. Our results indicated that people who were low in self-esteem felt worse about themselves after repeating the positive self-statement. Their moods and their “state self-esteem”–their feelings about themselves at that moment–were more negative than those of lows in the control condition. In contrast, people with high self-esteem did feel better after repeating the positive self-statement, but to only a limited degree.
She goes on to say that positive thinking efforts “despite their widespread endorsement, may backfire for the very people who need them the most.” (Bold and italics mine)
We don’t have a lot of control over what we think from moment to moment. The proof, of course, is in the puddin’.
For the next few minutes, whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances, think of a yellow smiley face. Even if you come back and say you did it and had no problem, my guess is you tried to think of an opposite or some other like strategy. So that little yellow devil was still there lurking in the background.
Positive thinking is not only not the path to Valhalla, it is also unlikely to work as a practice –
Carlin Flora — Psychology Today – “It wasn’t enough that an array of academic strands came together, sparking a slew of insights into the sunny side of life. Self-appointed experts jumped on the happiness bandwagon. A shallow sea of yellow smiley faces, self-help gurus, and purveyors of kitchen-table wisdom have strip-mined the science, extracted a lot of fool’s gold, and stormed the marketplace with guarantees to annihilate your worry, stress, anguish, dejection, and even ennui. Once and for all! All it takes is a little gratitude. Or maybe a lot.”
Or maybe not.
So, now, if I have ruined it for you, what can you do? First of all, begin to trust your experience before you trust your mind. If all is well with you; just ignore me and absolutely do not believe a word I say.
I am reading Jonah Lehrer’s book, How We Decide, and came across the chapter called Choking on Thought. His premise there is that when a person ‘chokes’ or as said in golf, has a ‘yip’ the problem isn’t negative thinking. It is thinking too much. Often, when we try not to think, we end up thinking more … and more … and more.
Psychologist Steven Hayes, one of the originators of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or training, as I use it), tells us about the strange rule that exists relating to thoughts and feelings – the more we don’t want them, the more we have them.
If that’s true, the problem with positive thinking and affirmations is that they are an attempt to replace thoughts that we see as negative. Brains don’t work like that. When you add more language to the brain — remember now, this is the brain that is already choking on thought – the original thought isn’t replaced, it is added to. Now there are two thoughts choking and yipping all the way home.
When you are mired in negative thoughts, resistance is futile. Do you remember those old black and white monster movies; you know, like Frankenstein (with Karloff) or the Mummy (Christopher Lee?)? These monsters didn’t move all that fast, but as hard as people tried, some of them always got caught. Running from the monster didn’t work then, and trying to escape our demon thinking doesn’t work now.
This has already gone long, so that will be for tomorrow!
Hint: Success sometimes occurs by going against the brain.
Frankenstein via Compound Eye – 1st book at Blurb now!
Evil Smily via KaCey97007
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