I asked four experts to point out psychology advice they've read or heard in the popular press that they disagree with (or where the research points to more nuanced recommendations). Here's what they said.
Visualizing Having Achieved Your Goals. "Many self-help books advise people that to achieve their goals they should vividly imagine that they already have what they want to achieve. Actually, research has found that imagining you already have achieved a goal weakens your motivation to work towards it because when you feel like you already have something it's natural to feel like nothing more needs to be done. On the other hand, imagining yourself actually doing the things needed to achieve a goal helps increase your motivation to do them. See for example, Harnessing the imagination: Mental simulation, self-regulation, and coping." - Scott McGreal, MSc.
Personal Empowerment. "Magazines and talk shows love to discuss ways in which we can feel personally empowered. But true personal empowerment is not about having a feeling, it's about having a real impact on our environment and the people in it. Studies show that acquiring real personal empowerment involves a process of taking actions that demonstrate real world results. See this article summarizing the new research" - Guy Winch, Ph.D. author of The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships, and Enhance Self-Esteem
Change Happens When You're Ready? We often hear "Change will happen when you're ready". In my more than 20 years of experience, I've come to understand that "ready"-or the tipping point of change-often means 'when the consequences of our behavior outweigh the value of that behavior to us'. In other words, when the pay out (consequence) becomes greater than the pay back (value) we are prompted by circumstance to change what we are doing. This perspective can apply to anything from self-care, to relationship, to addiction. Of course, we then confront the question, "Are we willing to change?" - Michael J. Formica, MS, MA, EdM.
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