A study recently released by the Self-Center for American Psychology noted a sharp divide among losers regarding the effectiveness of the positive self-statements known as "affirmations"; winners, however, had little to say on the subject.
According to the Self-Center report, some losers avow that affirmations and positive thinking are enormously effective and are guaranteed to - eventually, on some level - bring them professional success, joy, and rewarding relationships, provided they believe devoutly enough to attract the right sort of energy. Other losers, however, dismiss affirmations as an utter waste of time, serving only to fool losers more gullible themselves into a false sense of hope that their lives might, someday, become marginally better.
Two participants in the study, New York City losers Geoffrey Alsup and Denise Bennett, are (former) friends whose difference of opinion regarding affirmations caused a seemingly unbridgeable rift in their relationship, such as it was.
Denise, at five-foot-two and 287 pounds, proclaims that the use of affirmations over a five-year period has profoundly improved her self-esteem, personal energy, and overall health.
Explained Denise, "Every morning, when I first wake up and my mind is at its most suggestible, I affirm to myself that I am lithe, lean, sensual, and sexy. I am getting better and better in every way, and so is my life."
Inarguably powerful statements - but have they effected tangible positive change in Denise's health and well-being? She claims that they have.
"I've lost four pounds in just the last nine months," Denise reported. "The physical changes have been slow, but steady. And I know that the only reason they haven't happened more quickly is that sometimes, when I've spoken the affirmative statements out loud or written them down on a piece of paper, a part of me was doubting what I was saying. That doubt is what's prevented my affirmations from manifesting as effectively as they otherwise would."
In fact, Denise admitted that on one occasion, when she uttered the positive phrases, her posture was less than fully upright. "Obviously, the universe can't really do much for me when I'm slouching," she acknowledged.
From loser Geoffrey's perspective, however, Denise's - and other people's - use of affirmations is but a foolish, delusional waste of time, proving that she's dumber and more naïve than intellectuals like himself. At a tubby six-foot-six, 38-year-old Geoffrey is socially awkward and has been unemployed for almost a year.
"Nothing ever goes my way, and nothing ever will," stated Geoffrey. "We live in an impossible economy, and the system's stacked against us. In other words, life is tough, and it's only going to keep getting tougher. And I'd be an idiot to try and fool myself into thinking that that will ever change."
Another intractable personal situation, said Geoffrey, is his unhappily single state. "Women care only about money and how they look," he noted. "They just want some super buff dude with five Hummers who'll pay for their Botox. I'm not that guy, and affirmations will never change that."
As a former friend who still wants the best for him and for everyone, Denise despairs over Geoffrey's negativity and only hopes that her own positive example will inspire him to watch an Abraham-Hicks video on the law of attraction.
Admittedly, that seems unlikely. According to Denise, perhaps the final nail in the coffin of her and Geoffrey's friendship was his casual remark that despite her commitment to daily affirmations, she is still fat.
Denise said that Geoffrey was entirely unswayed by her response that her body is becoming more toned and supple every moment of every day, and he was similarly unimpressed by her assertion that the only reason her weight loss hasn't proceeded more quickly is her own lack of faith, which, on occasion, has caused the affirmations to backfire, resulting in actual weightgain.
According to Denise, her protestation, "It's not the affirmations' fault, it's mine!" fell on deaf ears with her former friend.
The Self-Center Study found that, like Denise and Geoffrey, nearly all of the losers interviewed expressed extremely vehement opinions as to the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of affirmations. At the same time, researchers found it surprisingly difficult to locate any winners with strong views on the subject. Eventually, however, they did manage to press two winners into offering their relatively neutral opinions on affirmations.
Winner Theresa Hummel, who operates a wildly popular vegan bakery in Manhattan's SoHo, shrugged offhandedly when asked what she thought of the effectiveness of affirmations and positive thinking. "Affirmations? Sure, why not? They probably help, at least a little bit. And even if they don't, who really cares? There's not much to lose in trying them."
Another winner, Mick Cosgrove, who is blissfully married and recently launched a hyper-successful multi-million-dollar solar energy business, was a bit more skeptical, pointing to his own achievements as evidence that affirmations and positive thinking are not crucial to personal or professional success.
"I mean, look at me," said Mick. "I'm naturally, even ridiculously, lucky. Windfalls and pleasant surprises constantly come my way. At any given moment, I find just what I need, and more. I'm almost fifty now, and just when I think things can't possibly get any better, they do! And I've never done an affirmation in my life."
With the debate over the effectiveness of positive thinking expected to rage on for the foreseeable future, affirmation-curious folks are left in bit of a quandary. To affirm, or not to affirm? That, it seems, is the question for modern-day American losers.
Fortunately, Self-Center psychologists concluded, there are significant advantage to both approaches. For naturally optimistic losers like Denise, they found, affirmations can offer increased hope that their lives will improve, despite all evidence to the contrary. And for determinedly defeatist losers like Geoffrey, the self-perceived boost in intellectual superiority that they gain from refraining from positive thinking can, in many cases, do more to improve their overall mood than any affirmation could ever hope to accomplish.
When asked whether he found it encouraging that, regardless of whether they choose to use affirmations and positive thinking or avoid them altogether, losers literally can't go wrong, Geoffrey responded, "No, I don't find that encouraging at all. In fact, it sounds suspiciously like an affirmation."