I’ve tried to convince myself over and over that I could have dug a little deeper and avoided being dropped on the last climb at the state championships.
But the reality is that I barely hung on to the leaders on the second lap, and I knew I was blown on the last one before the climb even started. It was just a question of how big the gap would be. Sure, it’s possible I could have kept it from getting as large as it was, thus enabling myself to bridge, but there was going to be a gap that no amount of affirmation or will could prevent.
We’ve probably all heard life coaches, Tony Robbins, or someone on open mic day at church declare without the least hint of sarcasm or doubt “you can do anything you really want to.” What a load of crap. I will never win the Tour of Flanders. Ever. Not even possible. Winning a race as a Cat. 3 is a stretch. No amount of training will ever change my DNA.
So when I hear people profess the virtues of self-affirmation and how empowering it is and the doors that are opened as a result, my response is to either roll my eyes and laugh under my breath or to disregard all pretense and mock them openly.
Turns out I’m not the only who feels this way, and now there’s some science to back me up:
When positive self-statements strongly conflict with self-perception…there is not mere resistance but a reinforcing of self-perception. People who view themselves as unlovable find saying that they are so unbelievable that it strengthens their own negative view rather than reversing it. Given that many readers of self-help books that encourage positive self-statements are likely to suffer from low self-esteem, they may be worse than useless.