A New Direction – the Negative Side of Positive Thinking (Part 3)

In her book The Willpower Instinct, Stanford University psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal, who has one of the most popular classes in Stanford history, tells us that making a resolution or affirmation makes us feel good at the moment, but creates an unrealistic or optimistic expectation of the future. It creates a kind of satisfaction or relaxation that does not allow us to have a realistic idea of the present and the future. They actually make us far less motivated to get back on track and reach our goals. When we fail to reach our goals we can feel guilty or frustrated. The harder we are on ourselves, the harder it is for us to be successful. It sets us up for a bigger fail.

Heather Barry Kapps and Gabriele Oettingen, conducting research out of New York University and the University of Hamburg, also found that positive thinking resulted in less energy and poor achievement. The reason cited for the poor achievement of generated positive thinking, “… [positive thinking] does not generate enough energy to pursue the desired future.” But they didn’t stop there. Oettingen had her subjects think about the realistic obstacles to achieving their goals. In essence, the test subjects injected a healthy dose of reality to balance the pie-in-the- sky positivity. In positive thinking parlance, this reality is considered negativity. What was the result? Oettingen’s subjects who included possible obstacles to reaching their goals outperformed those participants who only focused on the possible positive outcome.

Negativity is a reality. Negativity has value. It does no good to deny its existence or try to neutralize its impact by playing the law-of-attraction game. Those who try to neutralize negativity not only find it a drain on spontaneous living but find it necessary to generate copious amounts of energy to maintain a mood of success in the face of continual failure. You will see a forced and frozen smile on their face and fear in their eyes. They know the force of evolution is working against them but don’t know how to stop it. They don’t know they shouldn’t try. It’s like trying to maintain the integrity of your sand castle when the tide is coming in.

Book: When Nothing Works Try Doing Nothing

Nothing Works Techniques (Audio Downloads)

QE Demonstration (Calcified Shoulder) English/French

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