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November 10, 2014

Unblock Your Dreams

Rachel Salaman

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Gabriele-Oettingen_200x250I’ve always admired the work of positive psychologist Martin Seligman. His effective techniques are widely used by individuals and organizations, and I particularly like his work on optimism.

I was therefore intrigued to discover a new take on positive thinking by Gabriele Oettingen, one of Seligman’s former colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania.

Now a psychology professor at New York University and the University of Hamburg, Oettingen's research has shown that dreaming just about the fulfillment of your wishes is more likely to hold you back than help you to achieve your wish.

According to Oettingen, we need more than just the dream; we need "mental contrasting," by which she means visualizing the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving it. Naming the hurdles, she says, helps us to find a way over them.

In her new book, “Rethinking Positive Thinking,” she offers a four-step process called WOOP, which stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan. In this clip from our Expert Interview with Oettingen, she explains how it works.

Listen to the full interview ¦ Install Flash Player.

Question: How do you set about realizing your dreams, and how far does positive thinking take you on that journey? Let us know below!

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3 comments on “Unblock Your Dreams”

  1. Great new approach to dreaming the dream, visualizing it and then thinking they will just happen. The idea of actually spotting some of the obstacles along the way and doing something about it, is a refreshing take to just pure positive thinking. I like it!

  2. I also like the point of being prepared for obstables. Maybe if I was more prepared for obstacles, seeing them and deciding how I will get past them if they do appear, I would have reached certain goals quicker. And I would actually have reached others!! Great point to take with me for the new year and its goals.

  3. Hi Rebel and Bree,
    Indeed anticipating potential obstacles and making a plan as to how you might overcome them helps accelerate actually achieving your dream. Since you know in advance how you might deal with situation, you are prepared in the event that they do happen. Often times, people do not do this preparation and when something unexpected happens, it paralyzes them and they are stuck for a bit before figuring out a way to either get over or around the obstacle!

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