Tag Archives: positive thinking

Self-Help Hurts

For over 150 years, a variety of would-be do-gooders have told people (usually charging them a fee along the way) that the only way to improve their lives is to think positively about themselves. Frenchman Emile Coue told his 19th-century readers to repeat to themselves “Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.” Englishman Samuel Smiles admonished his Victorian readers readers that “Heaven helps them who help themselves.” American Norman Vincent Peale also extolled the virtue of “positive thinking.”

This astonishingly simple idea has worked its way into all manner of psychotherapy, educational theory, and everyday life. And like most astonishingly simple ideas, it turns out to be false. Indeed, it turns out to be harmful. Continue reading Self-Help Hurts