Study: Self-Help Books Make You Feel Worse

This is an excerpt from the BBC News Health article on Friday, July 3, 2009 titled “Self-help ‘makes you feel worse'” based on findings in a study appearing in the journal Psychological Science:

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
Joanne Wood University of Waterloo

The Association for Psychological Science issued a press release on July 2, 2009 titled “The Problem with Self-Help Books: Study shows the negative side to positive self-statements” in which they described a follow-up study where psychologists allowed participants to list negative self-thoughts along with positive self-thoughts. They found that low self-esteem participants’ moods improved when they were allowed to have negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts.

The psychologists suggested that unreasonably positive self-statements, such as “I accept myself completely” or other self-praising thoughts,  can provoke contradictory thoughts in individuals with low self-esteem. These internal powerful negative thoughts can readily overwhelm the positive thoughts. And, if people are instructed to focus exclusively on positive thoughts, they may find negative thoughts to be especially discouraging.

This is not surprising to me since most self-help books do NOT address the self-sabotaging subconscious (or conscious) negative thoughts that keep people stuck in repetitive negative thought patterns and relationship scenarios.  The study essentially reaffirms what I was quoted as saying in the January 2009 issue of Good Housekeeping. For an affirmation to work, you must at least believe that the affirmation is possible for you.

The most frequent and pervasive obstacles that cause subconscious limiting beliefs that create self-sabotage, low self-esteem, and repetitive negative relationship patterns include: feeling unloved, anger/resentment, guilt/shame, abandonment, how we define our self, lack of self-love, inadequacy/powerlessness, heartache, fear of the unknown, stress, and habit.  It is imperative that these issues be addressed to be able to achieve freedom from self-sabotage. Most self-help books do not address the faulty, limiting thoughts/beliefs that keep us stuck.

Loads of Light to you all- and Godspeed in your journey to Shift Your Life!

Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.

Twitter @TracyLatz  and @docmarion

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