3 Common Myths About Self-Help, From A Positive Psychologist

by Jerald Dyson

“People [think] this self-development work is cheesy or it’s about good vibes only,” Heinz says. “That is so untrue.” In fact, a positive-only mindset actually won’t get you anywhere. Of course, believing in yourself and hunting for the good in people is important, but according to Heinz, your pessimism also plays a role. 

“Dream big, and then brush that dream up against cold, hard reality,” she notes. “Maybe it’s your skill set, the current climate, resources, or whatever it is… Use a strategic mindset and say, ‘These are the obstacles. How am I going to overcome these?'” Planning for what potentially is not going to work makes you more likely to accomplish the goal, as opposed to staying in an optimistic fantasy. 

That’s not to say optimism isn’t important—you should definitely focus on optimism before launching into a pessimistic mindset. But “if you really want to make that dream into a reality, your pessimism is on your side,” says Heinz. “That little bit of tension or inner friction is actually important because it activates us to take action. It makes us do something.” 


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