The power of positive thinking has received continual focus in health and psychology circles. It is a generally accepted belief that stress has negative effects on your body. Positive thinking, that is, a departure from a negative and stress-induced disposition, is deemed to have the ability to generate emotional and physical processes that lead you to greater health, higher self-esteem, greater confidence and more energy. Can you become more fit simply by being confident and thinking more positively?
Positive Thinking and Biology
Studies show that if you are depressed, you have a greater risk for heart disease and other debilitating conditions. It has also been observed that if you are under a lot of stress, you will tend to suffer more often from the flu and colds than those who live a more relaxed lifestyle. Clearly, your state of mind has an impact on your biology.
Positive Thinking and Physical Activity
One of the connections between positive thinking and fitness is that if you consciously avoid negative thoughts and focus on the brighter side of things you tend to have more energy. When you are feeling more energetic and confident, you are more apt to be active and participate in a regular physical activity. If you are perpetually depressed, you may have a tendency to shy away from activity and not possess the emotional or physical strength or desire to engage in fitness activities. Focusing on the positive, thus, may lead you to engage in more physical activity.
Positive Thinking and Low Self-Esteem
However, one of the findings in recent years is that for positive thinking to be effective, your thoughts have to be real and authentic. Many self-help gurus encourage you to think positively and the outcome is not always so positive. Recent studies show that if you are suffering from depression or low self-esteem, positive thinking does not necessarily lead to positive effects.
For positive thinking to lead to positive outcomes, whether that is a fitness goal or any other type of life goal, your thoughts have to be believable. Studies have been conducted observing the impact of positive self-affirmations on two specific groups: those with high self-esteem and those with low self-esteem. The results show that if you already possess high self-esteem, you experience a greater sense of confidence after repeating the affirmations. If your self-esteem is low, you would experience a dramatic drop in self-confidence through repeating the positive thoughts.
In other words, if you do not believe the positive thoughts and they are forced, you will see a drop in energy and self-confidence. Clearly, positive thinking and such affirmations are only useful if they are in alignment with how you already feel about yourself. If your self-esteem is low, positive thinking will not, in and of itself, have a positive effect.
In conclusion, the “I think I can” mentality is most useful when you are already confident and possess high self-esteem. In this case, positive thinking contributes to enhancing all of your efforts in life, including fitness goals. But if your self-esteem is low, positive thinking will not be enough of a motivator. You would need additional support systems to root out any underlying emotional challenges that may stand in the way of accomplishing your life goals.