[ lifehack.org ] Time to Stop Those Positive Mantras! Studies Show They Only Make You More Negative

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Time to Stop Those Positive Mantras! Studies Show They Only Make You More Negative

Positive thinking is one of the most touted philosophies in the world. Many authors have written many different books and articles professing about the advantages of positive mantras, and the list includes not only writers but many notable industrialists, celebrities, and highly respected personalities.

Decoding positive thinking

Positive thinking [1] is actually developing our mindset in such a way that we expect good and only favorable outcomes from any events. In other words, it’s the process of transferring our energy into reality by thinking only optimistic thoughts. (That’s what the notion is, at least.)

Does it really work?

While many people believe that positive thinking really leads you to the path of glory and happiness, there are others who think otherwise. Both sides have put forward many compelling reasons supporting their views. While the argument may be never ending, the detractors have a strong foothold over their claims because the proponents of the debate don’t have too many scientific backings behind their claims.

How positive mantras can backfire

Suppression of negative emotions causes outbursts of dreadful negativity

If we use positive mantras [2] too frequently, then it might work for a shorter period but on the long run, it may cause even more adverse consequences. Why so? When we use a positive mantra, it tends to suppress our negative emotions. But, if it continues for a longer time and becomes a habit, then we might be overwhelmed by even more negative feelings at times when the results are not as expected, as there should be a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions in life. The balance of positive and negative feelings in life is also supported by the Ying and Yang theory developed by the Chinese.

Action speaks louder than mantras

Additionally, uttering positive mantras in our life might work sometimes and also, to channel the energy into reality, utter faith and absolute belief are required. However, the mantras most definitely prove themselves useless, if we just keep chanting positive mantras but fail to put into action the message that the mantra is supposed to convey. As a consequence of that, we might be caught off guard by negative kind of vibes, and feel highly frustrated because our mind will immediately conjure up many negative thoughts.

For instance, if you believe that a perfect body is the one with well-toned abs, biceps, and wings, which you don’t possess, but keep on insisting that you have a perfect body, then your mind will start searching for the fallacies (which you think, mind it) within your body. You will be insecure about the little bit of belly protruding out, you will be insecure about your waistlines and even your arms. This will make you more insecure about your body and will depress you even more.

Trap you into delusional fantasies

A fact is a fact, it won’t change irrespective of the situations and time, so a fact is not going to change even when you utter positive mantras your whole life. For example, if you are a little short on the finances, you aren’t going to miraculously solve your financial problems just because you utter positive mantras million times. It will be much better if you accept the reality and work towards dealing with it. You could rather work on personal budgeting [3] instead of living with a false sense of security. This will make you happier on the long run.

Let’s take another scenario for example. You have an exam tomorrow and you are not prepared well. If you say that you are going to score 100 out of 100, it’s never going to work irrespective of how many times you say it in your head. The reality is you haven’t prepared well and there are certainly going to be questions, which you haven’t prepared for. While positive mantras might help you to write the answers correctly to the questions that you have prepared for, you won’t be able to write the answers, you don’t know. What I am trying to say is ‘there is a hypothetical situation and there is a brute reality’. Conjuring fantasies to wrap up reality is no way to answer any question in the real world.

Hard work is key to success in our life. If you have worked hard then despite all the negative thoughts that might surround your head instinctively, you are going to perform better, however, if you haven’t put on enough work, then no matter how many times you say that you are going to be successful, it won’t be enough.

When positive mantra backfire

A study has also shown that positive thinking works well if you have very high self-esteem [4] . But if you have low self-esteem and utter positive mantras, it is found that it will only strengthen your negative mindset when they are met by set-backs. This will result in many negative feelings. For example, if a good football player believes that he is going to be the best then it will act as a buffer and he will be able to perform to his potential, however, if a player with low self-esteem thinks that he is going to be the best player in the world, he will feel that his shooting is not good and even his passing is not on the par with average football player in the world, which means he will perform worse in the matches.

Are there any alternatives that actually work?

If you are the believer of positive mantras and you are beginning to doubt its functionality, what will you do? Don’t fret because there is another theory called value affirmation which might help you.

What is value based self-affirmation?

First of all, values are the beliefs which we think are desirable and ideal. Our values are dynamic as it is changing accordingly and reshaping as we experience new things in our life, therefore, it is necessary that we update our values constantly, so our objective in life resembles the values we believe in.

If we are aware of our values, it will help to maintain balance in our life. If there is an imbalance between our value and aim, it will undermine our motivation to do things. Hence, value affirmation is recognizing the values we believe in rather than saying the things like positive mantras repeatedly.

Does value based self-affirmation really work?

In one of the surveys conducted recently, students in one of the universities were chosen randomly to write about their values. Those students who were selected performed very nicely in their college years in comparison to those students who had not taken part. This was repeated again with the same success in Hispanic community and African-American community.

Therefore, the next time you find yourself chanting mantras to assure you that everything is going to be fine, stop. Instead, try to recognize your deeply rooted values and check whether your values are in balance with your action and goals or not, and become successful.

Reference

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