Norman Vincent Peale is thought by many to have created the concept of “positive thinking.” Born on May 31, 1898 in Brownsville, Ohio, Peale was a Methodist minister and the author of several books including The Power of Positive Thinking. Peale died on Christmas Eve, 1993.
Peale did not have any formal mental health training and was criticized by mental health professionals for daring to discuss self-empowering and other encouraging concepts aimed at helping people to achieve their best self. Peale described his work as a combination of theological practice and a strategy for helping people to grow in a positive way through honest self-analysis, forgiveness and character development.
“The blows of life, the accumulation of difficulties, the multiplication of problems tend to sap energy and leave you spent and discouraged. In such a condition the true status of your power is often obscured, and a person yields to a discouragement that is not justified by the facts.” The Power of Positive Thinking, page 15. The Power of Positive Thinking was “written with the sole objective of helping the reader achieve a happy, satisfying, and worthwhile life.”
The Power of Positive Thinking contains numerous religious references that you will not hear from modern day motivational speakers. You may find these references to be irrelevant or unhelpful but don’t be put off. I found the stories and anecdotes of people that Peale knew or researched to be extremely interesting and relatable to my personal experiences.
Peale’s concepts are relatively simple and can be applied by those of us engaged in job search. Here are two examples from The Power of Positive Thinking:
“Believe in Yourself! Have faith in your abilities!” Peale believed that “without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. But with sound self-confidence you can succeed. A sense of inferiority and inadequacy interferes with the attainment of your hopes, but self-confidence leads to self-realization and successful achievement.” The Power of Positive Thinking, page 6.
To build self-confidence, Peale suggested formulating a mental picture of success and never letting this image fade. Over time, this image will become more detailed and, eventually, no matter how badly things seem to be, we will have this positive image of success in our minds.
Which do you choose?
“A Peaceful Mind Generates Power.” Peale coined the phrase “suggestive articulation” to describe a technique for emptying one’s mind of negative self-talk and filling it with creative and healthy thoughts.
Peale’s premise is that if we deliberately and forcibly voice a positive thought over a negative one we can change our world. This means cancelling out the negative thoughts about ourselves (our personal abilities and qualities) with positive, healing thoughts.
To do this, we need to repeat to ourselves (out loud and in a positive and respectful voice) peaceful and quieting words like “tranquility,” “serenity” or “peace”. Repeating lines from a favorite poem, book, song or quote will also work. As will telling ourselves a silly story about our pets or children or a joke that always makes us smile or laugh.
In terms of job search, have you ever experienced what you believe to have been an unsuccessful job interview? You may not even have left the building before you started to berate yourself with negative self-talk. You may have thought to yourself that you are a huge failure who will never get a new job. You may have gone so far as to tell yourself that you do not deserve to be successful in your job search because you are not a good person or you are not as smart or talented as the other candidates.
Rather than beat yourself up, Peale would encourage you to replace these negative thoughts with positive self-talk. Do not tell yourself that you are a tremendous failure. Replace those words with these: “I’m disappointed in my performance but now I understand more about interviewing and I will practice and become better skilled and knowledgeable.”
As children, we all learned the power of words to cause harm or to heal. Negative self-talk drains the body and mind of energy and vitality. Negative self-talk might cause you to stop your job search in its tracks because you want to avoid further feelings of anger, loss, disappointment, or depression.
Take a page from The Power of Positive Thinking. Relieving your mind of damaging negative self-talk and repeating positive, healing words or phrases could encourage you to engage in a more effective job search. For example, a new focus on your job search activities that will identify the best position in terms of your abilities and help you to do better on your next interview. As a result, your positive words may change your world.
Now, get to it . . .