Since Dale Carnegie's days, psychological manuals have been immensely popular, but alas, they are far less practical than they promise. Some of the theses that modern gurus from pop psychology treat their readers with are in direct contradiction not only with scientific research data, but also with Murphy's laws, and not so much help as hinder self-improvement and the achievement of life success. Consider a few of the myths of modern pop psychology, which many are uncritically taken on faith.
To succeed in achieving a goal, it must be visualized, that is, visualized as vividly as possible. Visualization - the creation of images of the desired reality in the imagination - is one of the most fashionable topics in pop psychology in recent years. The first data on the effectiveness of visualization of the anticipated result was obtained in the field of sports psychology and was later hastily disseminated to achievements in all areas. At the same time, it is overlooked that in the case of sports competitions we are talking about athletes who, during the entire course of long trainings, have achieved absolute automatism in performing the entire sequence of movements necessary to achieve a result; decisive for them is the intensity or accuracy of these movements. In these cases, visual anticipation of goal achievement does sometimes lead to improved athletic performance. In all other areas, especially career planning, building a general strategy for the life path - visualization not only does not bring the desired result, but can lead to the opposite. It is also obvious: when it comes not to throwing the ball into a basketball basket, but to some more complex life tasks, a detailed anticipation of the result is always an illusion. Nothing in life happens exactly the way we anticipate it. Therefore, even having achieved his goal, a person still runs the risk of being dissatisfied, something will probably not happen quite as dreamed of.
Recommendations. You must have a goal in front of you, but admiring it until it is achieved is clearly premature. The focus should be primarily on the means to achieve it. Success is not driven by daydreaming, but by planning. Moreover, the plan is a dream, detailed and scrupulously close to reality.
Restraining your feelings is wrong and harmful. Driven into the depths of the soul, they lead to emotional overstrain, fraught with breakdown. Therefore, any feelings, both positive and negative, must be openly expressed. If expressing your frustration or anger is unacceptable for moral reasons, they should be poured out on an inanimate object, for example, by beating a pillow. The exotic experience of Japanese managers gained wide popularity several years ago. In the locker rooms of some industrial enterprises, rubber puppets of the bosses, like punching bags, were installed, which workers were allowed to beat with bamboo sticks, ostensibly to defuse emotional tension and release the accumulated hostility towards bosses. Much time has passed since then, but nothing has been reported about the psychological effectiveness of this innovation. It seems that it remained a curious episode without serious consequences. Nevertheless, numerous manuals on emotional self-regulation refer to it even today, urging readers not so much to "control themselves" as, on the contrary, not to restrain their emotions. However, displacing anger on an inanimate object does not reduce stress, but rather the opposite. Any reasonable person, venting his anger in this way, realizes that the real source of irritation remained invulnerable, and this annoys even more. In addition, if a person expects calming from the procedure, but it does not occur, this only increases the annoyance.
Recommendations. Any physical activity helps to release emotional stress, but only if it is not associated with aggressive actions, even play. In a state of psychological stress, it is useful to switch to athletic exercises, running, walking, etc. In addition, it is helpful to distract from the source of stress and focus on something unrelated to it - listening to music, reading a book, etc. Plus, there's nothing wrong with restraining your emotions. On the contrary, the ability to control oneself and express one's feelings in accordance with the situation should be consciously cultivated in oneself. The result of this is both emotional balance and full communication, more successful than with the spontaneous expression of any feelings.
If you are in a bad mood, you will feel better by switching your thoughts to something pleasant. The results of psychological research show that when we are in a depressed mood, that is, exactly when we need a change of mood, our mind is completely unable to intentionally implement it. When we are preoccupied with our problems, it means that they have taken possession of us completely, so much so that we lack the mental strength to suppress negative experiences. And trying to deceive ourselves, causing some new feelings, we only strengthen those that already possess us.
Recommendations. Emotional depression is easier to overcome when you turn to others for help and support. Share your concerns with a friend or relative, a priest or psychologist - anyone who can help you switch to other thoughts. ” It is useful to just go where people enjoy themselves - to a concert, to a park, to visit. And finally, if you foresee a situation in advance that will cause you grief, try to evoke thoughts about pleasant things in your mind in advance - joyful events of the past or dreams of the future. The anticipated chagrin will not be easy to supplant the good mood thus achieved.
By reaching out to ourselves with encouragement and encouragement, and by praising ourselves, we can increase our self-esteem. Many popular self-help guides contain similar advice: do not get tired of encouraging yourself with praise, moreover, fill your home, car, workplace with mini-posters with approving slogans "Well done!", "Good girl!" etc. When the gaze constantly dwells on such stimuli, it ostensibly improves mood and increases motivation. Self-approval is indeed capable of somewhat increasing self-esteem, but only for those who already have it high enough. Moreover, the benefits of this are highly questionable. People with low self-esteem do not take various pseudo-positive slogans addressed to themselves seriously, because, in principle, they are not used to trusting their own positive judgments. Worse, in the undeserved, from their point of view, praise, they hear a mocking tone, and this does not at all raise the mood, rather the opposite.
Recommendations. A person's self-esteem does not develop overnight, but over the course of his entire life, and it is naive to try to quickly rebuild it by hanging encouraging stickers around the house. Moreover, it is generally extremely difficult to do this on your own. This requires the support of other people. Cherish communication with those to whom you are pleasant and attractive, who are ready to stimulate the growth of your self-esteem. Their approval is far more important than any self-compliment. And try to minimize communication with those who threaten to shake your self-esteem with their hostility. It is impossible to please everyone, to please everyone and everyone, but in most cases it is in our power to choose with whom we deal and whose judgments to listen to.
Low self-esteem is a major obstacle to success in life. Therefore, it must be increased in every possible way, both by means of self-persuasion, and with the help of all kinds of training procedures. Many years ago, the outstanding American psychologist William James deduced a formula according to which a person's self-esteem can be represented as a fraction, the numerator of which is his real achievements, and the denominator is his ambition and aspirations. In other words, the most reliable way to increase self-esteem (better than which no one has proposed over the past century), on the one hand, is not to overestimate your claims, on the other, to achieve real, tangible success. If, figuratively speaking, to put the cart in front of the horse, that is, to cultivate high self-esteem in the absence of real success, and even against the background of overestimated ambitions, this is the path not so much to well-being as in the opposite direction - to depression and neurosis. James, who went down in the history of psychology more as a thinker than a researcher, only outlined many directions of subsequent psychological research with his judgments. Based on his ideas, 20th century psychologists conducted many interesting experiments and observations regarding self-awareness and self-esteem. And they established: a person's self-esteem begins to form at an early age, and mainly under the influence of external assessments, that is, those that are given to a person by the people around him (first, parents and educators, then comrades and colleagues). When these assessments are not based on real merit and dignity, high self-esteem, of course, can be formed, but in this case it has a neurotic character and often takes the form of arrogant narcissism and contempt (sometimes very aggressive) towards others. It is clear that such a position does not contribute to the establishment of relationships with people. Sooner or later, a person becomes an outcast. Can this be called a life success? People with high self-esteem are much more inclined to adhere to racist views, and are also more aggressive, often leading to unlawful violent actions. Those who consider themselves worthy of all kinds of benefits are often ready to achieve them at the expense of others, by any means, including unscrupulous and even illegal. And this path does not lead to the heights of success in life, but to social isolation, sometimes in the most literal sense, behind the prison bars.
Recommendations. The disadvantages of low self-esteem are obvious and undeniable, and it would be wrong to urge people to self-deprecate. It is rightly said: "If you do not value yourself highly, the world will not offer you a penny more." A person who does not love himself, thereby involuntarily provokes a similar attitude of others. But it turns out that unrealistically overestimated self-esteem is fraught with trouble. The ideal, as in most similar cases, is the "golden mean" - moderate, adequate self-esteem, commensurate with real merits and achievements. Instead of unreasonably puffing yourself up from complacency, you need to be soberly aware of your strengths and weaknesses in order to reasonably cultivate the former and compensate for the latter. We must remember: self-respect, not supported by the respect of others, is like a soap bubble, bright on the outside, but empty inside, which, moreover, sooner or later bursts. And we shouldn't worry about inflating this bubble, but about winning the approval of those whose opinions we value. It is clear that for this it is necessary to demonstrate their merits in practice. And then an adequate, healthy self-esteem will be formed not from emotions, but from facts.
It is necessary to cultivate an optimistic attitude towards life, since pessimism hinders the achievement of success and plunges a person into the abyss of troubles. The so-called positive thinking has reigned in Western society thanks to the combined efforts of Hollywood, television, popular songs and books that tell how to help yourself: "Everything will be fine! All problems can be solved! Be optimistic and you will be successful!" Optimism is the key to success, prosperity, and invincible health. Hope for the best and don't get discouraged is the theme in most guides today. Modern psychologists conclude that the obsession with positivity and optimism has gone too far. Of course, optimism has its advantages, but there are also many disadvantages. A one-sided view of the world and of oneself does not give a person a real picture of what is happening. Confessing it, a person willy-nilly lives only for today, without thinking about the consequences of his own and others' actions. Carelessness and selfishness are the first fruits of thoughtless optimism. The unexpected collapse of hopes, severe disappointment are also the fruits of optimism. Every person in life needs a share of pessimism, so as not to flatter himself too much and look at things soberly. Let's not forget that "the glass can be not only half full, but also half empty." Defensive pessimism is just as effective as strategic optimism, which forces a person to carefully avoid thinking about bad things, and in some respects, pessimism has an even better effect. Reflections on obstacles will allow you to more fully embrace the subject, see all its sides, and thus awaken the imagination. One of the specially prepared psychological experiments involved both those who, by their nature, could be ranked as strategic optimists, and those who were prone to defensive pessimism. All participants were divided into three groups without preliminary selection. Each had to throw darts at a target. One was asked to imagine many obstacles and invent ways to overcome them. Another had to think that everything would go smoothly and that the members of this group would demonstrate the peak of perfection. The third group was told not to think about anything, but to mentally swim and sunbathe on the beach. Once in their usual element, that is, imagining various troubles, pessimists showed brilliant results. They did worse when they tried to imagine themselves as invincible champions, and very badly when, like strategic optimists, they tried not to think about anything at all. Optimists, on the other hand, achieved the best results after reckless "relaxing on the beach" and the worst - after trying to imagine themselves as pessimists and began to think about possible obstacles and difficulties in completing the task. Optimism and pessimism become second nature for everyone, rooted both in upbringing and, apparently, in an innate predisposition. But the most important thing is that when solving certain problems, the structure of which is similar to that which was done in the experiment, defensive pessimism, if it is natural for a person, turned out to be no worse than strategic optimism. The fact that optimism and pessimism are associated with the type of temperament was already known to Aristotle, although, as it turned out later, these connections are not as simple as it seems, and it would be naive to argue that a melancholic cannot be an optimist, and a sanguine person cannot be a pessimist. Pessimism and optimism can, to a certain extent, be characteristic of a particular culture. In this area, psychologists' research is just beginning, but it has already been proven, for example, that Asians living in America are more pessimistic than Caucasians. It is widely believed that a pessimistic view of things should be detrimental to health and that smiling is healthier than frowning. However, in practice it turned out that this is not always true.The volunteers, selected at random, were asked to recall the most tragic events of their lives, reflect on them for several days, and then describe them in full detail in the form of short essays. The surprise was not that the painful memories did not negatively affect the subjects' health indicators, but that they all felt better after that, and this feeling lasted for about four months after the experiment was completed. Here it is appropriate to compare these results with the well-known phenomenon of liberation from that which oppresses the soul with the help of creativity. Goethe and Hemingway spoke about creativity as liberation. And Freud, in fact, meant this in his reasoning about sublimation. But, on the other hand, can any subject be called the creator if he transfers his memories to paper? Will he be freed from them, as a writer is freed, embodying what oppresses him into images and plots? In addition, one should not fall into a certain delusion and identify the writer with his heroes, because the motives of his works may have nothing to do with the events of his life, but originate only in the writer's imagination. Nevertheless, many psychologists believe that releasing painful memories by returning to them, comprehending and writing down is also a kind of creativity, at least - mental work and experience that requires effort. Psychologists have also found that even nervous people, burdened with various worries and misfortunes, inclined to eternally complain about their fate, constantly complaining of pain in all parts of the body, visit the doctor no more often than their cheerful peers, and do not die earlier than optimists. In other words, even deep pessimism - not behavioral, not protective, not constructive, but deep and all-encompassing pessimism does not harm health at all. A pessimist was the German philosopher Schopenhauer, who, not without reason, believed that suffering is the source of great deeds, for it multiplies tenfold and forces one to be inventive. Everyone knows the phrase of Napoleon, which he uttered when he was asked what is the main secret of his strategy: "We must not hesitate to get involved in a battle, and then we will see." This principle is shared by most strategic optimists. But remember: this principle was good under Marengo, under Austerlitz, but it turned out to be useless near Moscow, Leipzig and Waterloo.
Recommendations. We should not thoughtlessly drive away any fears and worries from ourselves, because often they serve for us not so much as obstacles and restrictions, but as warnings. And constant cheerfulness is an unattainable utopia. Learn to value any of your state of mind (especially since the prevalence of this or that depends only on your individual psychophysical constitution) and get the most out of it.
The higher the motivation for success, the more likely it is to succeed. In everyday language, the stronger the desire to get something, the better it is. In 1908, the famous American psychologist R. Yerkes, together with J. Dodson, set up a relatively simple experiment that demonstrated the dependence of the productivity of the performed activity on the level of motivation. The revealed pattern is called the Yerkes-Dodson law, has been experimentally confirmed many times and is recognized as one of the few objective, indisputable psychological phenomena. There are actually two laws. The essence of the first is as follows. As the intensity of motivation increases, the quality of activity changes along a bell-shaped curve: first it increases, then, after passing through the point of the highest indicators of success, it gradually decreases. The level of motivation at which the activity is performed as successfully as possible is called the optimum of motivation. According to the second law of Yerkes-Dodson, the more difficult the activity performed for the subject, the lower the level of motivation is optimal for it. Yerkes himself always gravitated towards anthropomorphism, did not make fundamental differences between the behavior of animals and humans, easily saw analogies that were far from indisputable. Sometimes this sounded naive, but in relation to the law he discovered, it turned out to be absolutely true. An experiment repeated in humans has shown similar results. Puzzle problems were used as experimental material, monetary reward was used as a motivating stimulus (the amount of reward for a correct solution, at first negligible, gradually increased to a very significant one). And this is what was found. For a purely symbolic win, people worked slipshod, and the results were low. As the award grew, so did the enthusiasm; the results improved accordingly. However, at a certain moment, when the possibility of winning reached considerable magnitude, enthusiasm turned into excitement, and the results of activities decreased. Thus, it turned out that weak motivation is insufficient for success, but excessive motivation is harmful, since it generates unnecessary excitement and fussiness.
Recommendations. It seems that the authors of popular life success tutorials are not familiar with psychology. The slogan put forward by them "Concentrate all of oneself on the desired goal" is not entirely accurate. Of course, you need to have a goal in front of you, you need to strive for it. But we must bear in mind that obsession with purpose can be a disservice. According to the Yerkes-Dodson law, in order to achieve success, an optimal (or, more simply, moderate, average) level of motivation is required, excess here is as bad as lack.