A positive delusion could be viewed as merely a very positive attitude. Now, you might think that’s just being inaccurate and lying to yourself. You might be right, but the science is clear on this matter.
Studies have shown that people who overestimate their skills, abilities, and talents for a new endeavor ultimately perform at a higher level than those that are more realistic or pessimistic about succeeding at that endeavor.
Those that overestimate their abilities learn skills better and are more successful. This isn’t too surprising. If you don’t think you’re good at something and that you can’t learn to do it well, you’re going to be less motivated and engaged in learning that activity.
Conversely, if you expect the best, you’re going to jump in and get busy mastering that new skill. With high expectations – even unjustly high expectations – you’re greatly enhancing your odds of success.
Use these tips to use positive delusions for your benefit:
1. Positive delusions give hope. When you tell yourself, “Things will improve if I just hang in there,” you give yourself the hope you require to keep trying and to persevere. It’s always possible that things won’t improve, but if you believe they will, you give yourself a much better chance of success.
◦ Think about what you would do instead if you were very pessimistic. You’d be without hope. Do you think that would make you more likely to succeed or less likely?
2. Assuming the best can allow you to take action. When you have high expectations, you put yourself in the position to take action. Whether you’re interested in learning to play the banjo or talking to an attractive stranger, you can move forward if you believe that something positive will happen.
◦ If you had low expectations, would you be willing to take action?
3. Keep in mind that most of your beliefs are at least partially delusional. Your knowledge and interpretations of your past experiences are far from perfect. There’s little that you believe to be true that’s actually true. We’re all operating under various delusions.
4. Limit your negative self-talk. Negativity kills. It kills your spirit, motivation, and future. Put a damper on negative self-talk before it has a chance to gain momentum. Once it begins, immediately turn your attention to something else.
5. Think about the kind of person you want to become. Consider the goals you have in your life and think about what type of person you need to be in order to attain those goals. What qualities and characteristics do you need to possess? See yourself as already having those qualities.
6. Visualize success. One of the easiest ways to create a positive delusion is to visualize yourself succeeding. Imagine overcoming every possible obstacle. Imagine yourself confidently achieving success. This is one of the best ways to use positive delusions to your advantage.
7. Believe that having positive delusions is in your best interest. Remind yourself that being practical and realistic can be very limiting. Being optimistic and overestimating your abilities can be very effective in the long term.
There’s a time to be practical and realistic. But that time might not be as often as you think.
Overestimating your abilities and the likelihood of your success can be a powerful way to improve your results. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt on a regular basis and see how it affects your life. You can always go back to more pessimistic ways if you want.
Choose what works rather than what makes sense. Perform an optimism experiment on yourself and review the results.