Self-Help 'Makes You Feel Worse'
following article implies that self-help (specifically repeating affirmations) is not beneficial. It's true that
initially there can be a lot of resistance when you start repeating positive statements that don't "feel" true to
you. However, thousands upon thousands of people have found that affirmations that are persisted with do add value
to their lives. I think one of the best ways to ensure that you saturate and CHANGE your mind at a deep level with
affirmations is to use a program like this one, Think Right Now, which has helped so many people in so many
dramatic life-changing ways. Anyway, here's the article... see what YOU think!
Self-Help 'Makes You Feel Worse'
Bridget Jones is not alone in turning to self-help mantras to boost her spirits, but a study warns
they may have the opposite effect.
Canadian researchers found those with low self-esteem actually felt worse after repeating positive statements
They said phrases such as "I am a lovable person" only helped people with high self-esteem.
The study appears in the journal Psychological Science.
A UK psychologist said people based their feelings about themselves on real evidence from their lives.
The suggestion people should "help themselves" to feel better was first mooted by Victorian Samuel Smiles 150
His book, called simply "Self Help", sold a quarter of a million copies and included guidance such as: "Heaven
helps those who help themselves".
Self-help is now a multi-billion pound global industry.
The researchers, from the University of Waterloo and the University of New Brunswick, asked people with high and
low self-esteem to say "I am a lovable person."
They then measured the participants' moods and their feelings about themselves.
In the low self-esteem group, those who repeated the mantra felt worse afterwards compared with others who did
However people with high self-esteem felt better after repeating the positive self-statement - but only
The psychologists then asked the study participants to list negative and positive thoughts about themselves.
They found that, paradoxically, those with low self-esteem were in a better mood when they were allowed to have
negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts.
Writing in the journal, the researchers suggest that, like overly positive praise, unreasonably positive
self-statements, such as "I accept myself completely," can provoke contradictory thoughts in individuals with low
Such negative thoughts can overwhelm the positive thoughts.
If people are instructed to focus exclusively on positive thoughts, negative thoughts might be especially
The researchers, led by psychologist Joanne Wood, said: "Repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain
people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most."
However, they say positive thinking can help when it is part of a broader programme of therapy.
Simon Delsthorpe, a psychologist with Bradford District Care Trust and spokesman for the British Psychological
Society, said self-esteem was based on a range of real life factors, and that counselling to build confidence -
rather than telling yourself things are better than they are - was the solution.
"These are things like, do you have close family relationships, a wide network of friends, employment and
"If you're not close to your parents, don't have many friends, are unemployed and are unhappy with your
appearance, it might be hard to have high self-esteem.
"But if your experience is the reverse of that it would be much easier to say 'I'm OK' and believe that."
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