Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


The power of not positive thinking?

I was just reading Kare Anderson’s thought-provoking post on daily affirmations, where she discusses some research that indicates that positive affirmations aren’t as powerful as we’ve been led to believe.thedark

We’ve all heard the “positive self talk” pitch before – repeat the affirmations, become more like them.  (“…I’m good enough, and smart enough.  And doggone it, people like me.”)

Turns out, the conventional wisdom around affirmations may not be entirely accurate (read Kare’s post for more). 

I thought about that one for a while.  Why don’t these affirmations work that well?  What works better?  I’m no expert but I do have some thoughts on this.

  • Maybe the affirmations can create too much dissonance inside us.  In other words, even though we say the right things, perhaps some part of us (and even deeper inner voice) remains skeptical.  Could be.
  • Maybe some affirmations work better because the don’t define us, they merely inspire us.  For example, maybe we’re more apt to believe an “I can do this.” kind of affirmation before we believe an “I’m a good person.” affirmation.  There is a subtle difference – one encourages us to succeed, while the other places more of a subjective label on us.

Perhaps this is why setting bold goals works for so many of us:  we are more likely to be inspired and motivated to do something than we are to be something.

What do you think?  How well do affirmations work for you, and what works best in getting you through challenges and tough times?