For some people, optimistic thoughts can do more harm than good

June 22, 2009 at 8:38 am | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
clipped from www.economist.com

Words of wisdom

For some people, optimistic thoughts can do more harm than good

“I am a wonderful person and will find love again”
“The Power of Positive Thinking”, have encouraged people with low self-esteem to make positive self-statements. New research, however, suggests it may do more harm than good.

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.

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