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Rethink Positive Thinking And Start Mental Contrasting

A decade ago, hundreds of young Stanford graduates heard these famous words:
Believe in yourself because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path.
–Steve Jobs
In the audience there must have been a few people who religiously followed Job’s advice. “Think positively, I know I can do this” they must have told themselves, as they left college to start their new lives.
Of those who took the advice, some would have succeeded, whilst most would have failed. And the ones who failed must be wondering what went wrong?

Meet Gabrielle Oettingen – Professor Of Psychology

Positive thinking has been the bedrock of the self help movement, so does it really help us to achieve our goals?

Professor Gabrielle Oettingen believes that we should all dream a little smaller. According her research positive Fantasies work well to comfort us and give us hope, but fails to help us accomplish our goals.

In her new book, Rethinking Positive Thinking, Oettingen guides readers into the new science of motivation. Originally from Germany, Oettingen was raised in a culture where being realistic was the norm. However, when Oettingen arrived in America, she was pleasantly surprised to see how positive Americans were compared to Europeans.

Follow Your Dream and Passion – Is It Really Good Advice?

Gabrielle began to research on positive thinking, believing that it actually helps people achieve their goals. It was during her research she found out that positive fantasies seduce us to feel accomplished. 

Oettingen brought people to her lab and asked them to positively fantasise about their goals. Her research indicated that those who continually participated in positive fantasies, tended to perform poorly when it came to actually accomplishing their goals.

Oettingen’s work on positive thinking is extensive; she found that in every study positive fantasies would prevent people from achieving their goals. Some of the more interesting findings include the following results:

  • Women who enrolled in weight reduction programs who positively fantasised about their weight reduction, lost fewer pounds three months later than those who didn’t.
  • Students who thought more positively about getting good grades performed worse than students who didn’t exercise in positive fantasies.
  • In health, hip replacement surgery patients who fantasised positively about an easy recovery recovery did not recover so effortlessly as judged by their physical therapists.

(More info on her findings here)

Turning Positive Fantasies As A Tool For Productivity

Mental Contrasting

Positive Fantasies aren’t completely bad. In fact, if you use them correctly with Mental Contrasting, they can be a powerful tool for productivity and motivation. Here’s how mental contrasting works:

  1.  Think about what you really want to accomplish in the next four weeks. It doesn’t matter what type of wish it is, as long as it is challenging and achievable.
  2. Think about what would be the best outcome if you fulfil that wish.
  3. Now switch gears and you ask yourself what’s actually stoping you from fulfilling your wish and what are the inner obstacles you have created that’s stopping you from achieving your goals.

When you acknowledge the difference between your ideal self and your current circumstances, it creates a necessity to act. It forces you to close that gap through action. Once you identify those obstacles, you can then develop strategies to overcome them and accomplish your goals. And the best strategy you can apply is called an implementation intention, otherwise known as an IF-THEN plan.

Mental Contrasting + IF-THEN plans are called WOOP. Together, these tools are powerful enough to help you achieve most goals. Here’s how WOOP works:

  • Wish- Choose a wish that is challenging and feasible
  • Outcome- Determine the most important benefit you want to receive from that outcome.
  • Obstacle-  Determine what the self-imposed obstacle is. The obstacle should be something that you create and not something external to you.
  • Plan – Use an IF-THEN plan to overcome your obstacle

If you’re looking for a neat little app to get started with WOOP, then here’s one created by Oettingen. It’s available for free on iOS and Android. Otherwise, feel free to use the template below.

WOOP Plan Mental Contrasting

How To Apply It?

Lets say you WISH to run a marathon by the end of 2016 . The OUTCOME you want to see from this activity is to have a healthy body.

You then try to identify the self imposed OBSTACLES getting in your way from accomplishing this goal. You know you’re capable and you have the time to get it done, but you feel too tired to practice running when you get back from work.

Once you’ve figured out what’s holding you back, then you should make a pre-decision by using an if-then PLAN for your obstacle. It should look something like this:

IF I get tired after I get from work THEN I will just put on my running shoes and go outside for a jog.

You can apply WOOP in your own life and see if it really makes a difference. Remember, if you start day-dreaming, bring your self back to reality and ask yourself what are your obstacles and how are you going to overcome them?

The post Rethink Positive Thinking And Start Mental Contrasting appeared first on Course Ranker.



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Rethink Positive Thinking And Start Mental Contrasting

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