An entire industry has been created and thrives based solely on the theories of positive psychology: self affirmations help to motivate, we are told, and they may even help those with low self-esteem build their confidence.
Now research is starting to show the opposite: that self affirmations (or ‘positive self-statements’) have a negative effect on those with low self-esteem.
Dr Wood suggests that positive self-statements cause negative moods in people with low self-esteem because they conflict with those people’s views of themselves. When positive self-statements strongly conflict with self-perception, she argues, 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.
via Mind Hacks