A lot of people believe that the primary job of a performance coach or sports psychologist is to help you think more positively. That the biggest single catalyst for achieving more or breaking out of a slump is to believe that you can, and that good things will happen to those that can trick themselves into thinking this way. I believe this is why some people have a critical view of self help material in general, because they don’t agree that attitude alone is enough to thrive.
As it turns out, research has proven that for some people a positive attitude is actually detrimental to performance. That’s correct. Contrary to what many in my field believe, some people hurt their performance by trying to be optimistic.
The problem with over reliance on positive thinking is that you are whitewashing over any genuine negatives that exist. People have a problem with negativity and acknowledging weaknesses, especially in America where self belief is everything. There is actually a real benefit to pessimism and understanding that negatives are real, the problem is that people treat negatives as permanent rather than something that can be improved, which is why they try and discount negativity all together.
If you have real weaknesses in your skillset, just being optimistic won’t solve them. It may help you focus, but if you are not addressing the negatives, optimism is, in fact, delusion.
“If you don’t address the negatives, optimism is, in fact, delusion” Continue reading