The Power of Negative Thinking

From a women’s magazine:

Chirp "Have a great day!" to Barbara Held, a psychology professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and she just might challenge you on it. "Positivity can put a lot of pressure on some people," she says. "If I’m not having a great day, I now have the added stress of feeling like I should be." Held and some other psychologists believe that while optimism may have its benefits, natural-born pessimists are often taxed by what she calls "the tyranny of the positive attitude." When people struggle and fail to overcome their worries, they can become even more anxious. In one study, optimists and pessimists participated in a dart-throwing exercise. When the pessimists listened to a relaxing motivational tape beforehand, they performed worse than when they were told to imagine everything that could go awry. "Defensive pessimismthinking through, in vivid detail, all the things that could go wrong and how you would handle themcan be an effective coping strategy," says Julie K. Norem, a psychology professor at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, who led the study. "People who gravitate toward this way of thinking are often able to stop focusing on how anxious they feel and start thinking about what they need to do." Norem believes that if this approach is working for you, there’s no reason to be more positivebut "if you’re planning seven different routes to the grocery store, it’s not working for you."


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  1. Pingback: The Power of Subtraction « Unkategorized

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