Supposedly our subconscious cannot understand negatives. Therefore we should formulate all our goals in a positive way. Instead of writing down "Don't smoke" as a goal we should use "Be smoke free".

How much merit is there to this idea?

Here are some sources to show that this is a notable claim:

From http://guides.wikinut.com/The-Subconscious-Mind-Cannot-understand-Negatives/q-qvv29w/

Most self help subliminal programs are designed to get you to stop an unwanted behavior, but unfortunately the programmers either don't know, or don't care, that the subconscious brain cannot process the negative words in these programs, as such if they tell you not to chew your nails, for example, all your subconscious mind is aware of, is the thought of chewing your nails.

This can also be found in some books:

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=subconscious+doesn%27t+recognize+negatives https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=subconscious+doesn%27t+understand+negatives

closed as off-topic by Larian LeQuella Nov 29 '15 at 0:52

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Skeptics Stack Exchange is for challenging unreferenced notable claims, pseudoscience and biased results. This question might not challenge a claim, or the claim identified might not be notable." – Larian LeQuella
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    There are many implicit premises here: the existence of the "subconscious brain" (presumably they mean "unconscious mind"), that the unconscious mind CAN process POSITIVE words, and that when those words are repeated, they have some effect (beyond the conscious thinking triggered by repeating those words). I think this is going to be hard to answer. – Oddthinking Sep 12 '15 at 2:46
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it may involve original research and as currently phrased may not provide an adequate answer. – Larian LeQuella Sep 12 '15 at 13:48
  • 1
    @LarianLeQuella How should I phrase it? Can people still answer this question if they found evidence? – Joschua Sep 12 '15 at 20:23
  • On one hand, I agree it is hard to answer it and hence it's not necessarily the good place to ask this. On the other hand, it's a common claim, and add some science and skepticism in this seems a good idea to me. I feel a bit frustrated about that. – Einenlum Sep 13 '15 at 16:13
  • @Joschua to be honest, I am a bit stumped as to how to turn this into a notable and answerable questions. Let me think on it for a bit, or maybe another mod will have a brainstorm. – Larian LeQuella Sep 13 '15 at 21:15

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