“Wisdom is found only in Truth.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A couple of years ago, a woman sought me out as a coach because she started having performance issues at work. Once a very driven and confident young woman, for some unexplainable reason, her motivation was waning.
Digging a little deeper, I found out that she had hired a Spiritual Life Coach 11 months prior. Her coach didn’t actually even coach her; he told her there was a magic success formula for getting everything she ever aspired to have: all she had to do was attract what she wanted and it would come to her.
This woman visualized what she felt she wanted in life and jumped right into the process. She wrote positive affirmations in her journal daily and created a beautifully magnificent vision board for the things she desired in life.
Her coach told her that if she followed that prescription, she would have everything that she wanted. She didn’t even have to work or plan for it; it would manifest for her if she put out the right energy. One problem; my new client’s life was slowly unraveling. She had put all her eggs in the positive movement basket. She did not focus on who she was as a person; her strengths, her values, passions, or who she wanted to become.
What I just described was a true story that illustrates the problem with people misusing and misunderstanding a very powerful principle; the principle of controlling your mind.
In this blog post I will briefly touch on both the pros and cons regarding the Self-Help/ Positive Thinking Movement so that you will know how to use your thoughts to enhance your life; not merely use a formula to get things out of life.
Positive Thinking Movement
The Positive Thinking Movement can be summed up pretty succinctly; if you think positively and focus your energy on what you want, you will get it.
By itself, the positive thinking movement has both elements of profound truth yet also some very grave flaws.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I unequivocally believe in the power of thoughts and the importance of tapping into our creative imagination. However, more important than what I believe, research in the fields of Neuroscience and Positive Psychology strongly supports this fact.
It has been proven by science that replacing toxic thoughts with healthy, optimistic ones changes the neuroplasticity of the brain. This gives people a life filled with an overall optimistic sense of well-being and greater peace of mind.
I coach this, I speak on this; it is the foundation of how I’m able to help my clients identify and conquer limiting beliefs, tackle obstacles in their life, and replace thwarting mindsets holding them back.
So why am I writing this blog post? It’s because I’ve seen the positive thinking movement hijacked. It has been misused and misinterpreted. Many people think this is a formula to magically get what they want without having to have to work at it or grow as a person.
Positive Thinking Movement: The Truth
The Power of Thoughts
This is one area the positive thinking movement is spot on. Our mind is the epicenter of performance; it is one of the most powerful gifts we possess. Our thoughts most certainly determine our actions, our behavior, and even our health. Having positive, optimistic thoughts create a healthier lifestyle all the way around. Science proves that what you say to yourself, your brain believes.
The Power of Visualization
This is another component that the positive thinking movement got right. Visualization is a powerful tool and one of the 6 intellectual faculties we possess. Imagination is probably the most powerful of all the faculties. Nothing has ever been created that was not first imagined. The magical ability of imagination is inside all of us. It helps you “see” future possibilities in images and mental pictures. Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, and the Wright brothers are great examples of people who used this faculty to create things they had only seen in their mind’s eye.
The Power of the Spoken Word
Our subconscious mind does not have the ability to reject or neglect ideas; it can only accept. Any thoughts you choose to speak over and over again become part of your personality and your mind accepts it as truth. That is why the words you speak become truth and have the power to change your life; for your good or to your detriment. This is yet another win for the positive thinking movement.
Since all of this sounds so overwhelmingly favorable for the positive thinking movement, what could possibly be wrong with it? Let’s break it down to find clarity.
Positive Thinking Movement: The Flaws
The main focus of this movement is attracting material abundance and wealth; which is based on a person’s wants; not their personal core values. Your core values drive your decisions and fuel your goals.
They are the heart and soul of what motivates you. If you leave this crucial aspect out of your goal-setting process, you won’t begin to uncover your deepest desires. In other words, it’s shallow; not tapping into the power of purpose or living a life of significance.
A huge missing puzzle piece to this movement is the fact that it lacks action. Esther Hicks, Law of Attraction expert, is quoted as saying, “You did not come into this environment to create through action, instead your action is meant to be a way in which you enjoy what you have created through thought.”
There is a sense that everything you want will manifest itself without taking action; your action is your thoughts. This negates a hard work ethic and developing skills and learning to persevere which are crucial components for you to develop as a person. Your action steps are part of the process and certainly valuable keys to success.
Lacks Seeking Personal Truth
You can google “positive affirmations” and find tantalizing quotes such as:
- Think like a millionaire and you will become one
- Visualize your dream and it will come to you
- Money and abundance can flow to me easily and effortlessly
Many people use these affirmations, which they are told are the key to unlocking their dreams but there is a huge problem with that.
The problem with using someone else’s affirmations is just that; they are someone else’s, not yours. Positive affirmations will never outplay your own personal truth; your personal belief system.
Your belief system has to be based on your life. Personal development and transformation is a process of evolving and growing constantly. You conquer and overcome limiting beliefs by finding your own truth, not someone else’s.
For example, when a client comes to me and is experiencing self-doubt or lacks confidence, the first thing we do is uncover the source of where that voice is coming from. Once that imposter voice is exposed, the client works to uncover his or her own strengths. This new voice replaces the former one.
Those skills, talents, strengths now become their voice of truth; they are discovering and creating their personal affirmations. That is how affirmations actually do work; they are based on personal truth, not someone else’s magic formula.
The Reality of Success
So how can you use the valid principles of the positive thinking movement without falling into the flawed ideologies of the movement?
Let’s look at 3 science backed principles you can use to pave your way to success.
1. Integrate Positive Psychology Principles into Your Life
It’s very important to understand the distinction between Positive Psychology and the positive thinking movement. People mistake them for the same principles but they are not.
We have already established that positive thinking is a mental attitude of expecting good and favorable results.
Positive Psychology, on the other hand, is a branch of Psychology that emphasizes the study of emotions and traits that enable people to live happy and fulfilling lives. It is the study of optimal human functioning which includes positive aspects of well-being such as character traits.
Thirty years of science-backed research in the area of Positive Psychology has shown that people who use these strength’s principles are
- 3X more likely to have an excellent quality of life
- 6X more likely to be more engaged at work
- 18X more likely to flourish in life
Those statistics speak for themselves. If you want to experience more in life, incorporating this lifestyle will certainly make a huge difference; these strengths are the positive aspects of your personality.
2. Design Values-Based Goals
As I already mentioned, your personal values drive your behavior. They are your heart’s deepest desires. When you align your values with your goals, you are tapping into a power source that you already have inside of you. They are motivators that energize you to act on your goals.
Knowing your top 5 values and aligning them in every key area of your life will help you achieve your goals and attain the success you’re looking for.
3. Replace Toxic Thoughts with Truth
Your mind has extraordinary capabilities; it knows no limits other than what you consciously choose. Therefore, it is important to choose your thoughts; not allow your thoughts to choose you. If you focus on shortcomings and perceived failures, this paradigm will control your thought process.
We tend to live in ignorance of anything we can’t see, hear, feel, or taste so developing self-awareness is crucial. The key is to become aware of when your thoughts are toxic so that you can reframe them. Once you are aware of the toxic thought, press pause and choose what thought you want to have. Always make sure your thoughts are based on truth. Here is where you start building your own repertoire of personal affirmations or as I like to call them, your truth talk.
BE… DO… HAVE… Model
Lastly, focus on who you want to become; who you want to be rather than what you feel you are entitled to have. The BE DO HAVE model is a powerful framework for change. The question for this model starts with, “Who do I need to become?
Incorporate your Character Strengths from the Positive Psychology model to help you become that person. Then you will have greater clarity on what you need and want to do in life.
The have piece will come as a result of the foundation you will lay by using this model. You will see more clearly what you truly want to have and not just what you think you want to have.
I hope that you have gained some clarity and insights into both the strengths and flaws of this movement so that you can move forward armed with the right tools and mindset to explore your dreams, goals, and attain the success you’re looking for.
Keep Believing Nothing is Impossible,
“It’s never too late to become who you want to be. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” – F Scott Fitzgerald
Take Transform University’s Achievement Predictor Questionnaire to get even greater clarity on your next big goal, dream, or idea and see how closely it lines up with the science of success.
Regardless of where you are in life; whether you are in transition, or if you have total clarity and direction, you can get an even clearer view of whether or not your goals are attainable; ensuring your success.