Positive Thinking has been a popular catch phrase for sometime now, so it might surprise you to find that I’m not a fan. Recently, there has even been scientific research into the fact that it can be detrimental to people of low self-esteem in particular.
The reason I’m not a fan is because to be Positive all the time is an impossible task, and therefore both pointless and soul destroying. The world we live in is made of North/South, Light/Dark, Electrons/Positrons i.e. a mixture of both, and we are both happy/sad, positive and negative. I know a really retentive guy who about 25yrs ago was really trying to be positive all the time, so he decided to record how he felt (using a scale) every 2hrs every day for 2 YEARS! Madness! Anyway, at the end of the 2yrs, do you know what he found out? It all balanced out; he’d been as positive as he was negative all the way through.
If you try to be positive all the time, you are ignoring a whole aspect to yourself that is really useful, just as if you try to be nice all the time, you are not using all your skills to the fullest. You’ll probably find the following will happen:
1) You’ll keep feeling secretly guilty because you know that you are not really being positive all the time, but just don’t want to admit it.
2) You’ll every now and again explode with repressed irritation and anger at all the people that you have been gritting your teeth around.
3) You’re kids will be behaving in a really angry/aggressive manner for no apparent reason; basically living out the frustration that you are repressing.
4) People will take you for granted because you are being ‘nice’ all the time and it will be difficult to discipline the kids.
So what do I recommend then, being negative and miserable all the time?!! No, of course not!
What I’m suggesting is to be firstly honest with yourself about how you feel. Be open about it, before it all comes bursting out at an inappropriate time. If you are feeling rubbish, then have a look for the positive things in your life to balance it out. If you are feeling positive, then have a look for the not so good things in your life, so that the universe doesn’t need to do it for you. Plus, use your ‘less positive’ aspects ‘for good’! What I mean is for example, embrace your mean side when you have to keep your child safe and therefore not let them go somewhere dangerous. If you don’t feel guilty about it, you will make a much better job of it, and they will accept what you say much more easily. It’s when we feel guilty or uncertain that things tend to go wrong. So, think about why it is helpful to them for you to be ‘mean’? Does it help them appreciate what they do get, or what they have? Does it make them appreciate when you are happy? Does it help them to understand that they will still be loved, even after someone is angry with them? Does it give them a healthy respect for you? Does it teach them to express how they feel as well?
When it comes to being ‘positive’, instead think of it as being ‘factual’ or ‘truthful’. There are some negative thinking traps, which help to spiral you into feeling worse and worse about your life, plus they are plain untrue! So have a look for these tendencies:
- Dwelling on the negative predominantly
- Jumping to conclusions
- Mind Reading
- Fortune Telling
- Saying ‘Should’
- Saying ‘Must’
- Down Playing the Positive
- Blaming yourself for everything
- All or nothing thinking
Most of all, don’t feel guilty for being who you are. I promise you will always be both good and bad, extraordinary and boring, nice and mean, kind and horrid. That’s who you are, that’s who we all are!
6 thoughts on “The Dangers of Positive Thinking”
I believe that there is nothing wrong with being positive and or negative. Because we get into each type of situation. The way one acts and thinks about the situation is what determines the outcome. There is more dangers in thinking negative then positive.
Hi Josten, I understand and appreciate the way that you think. However, after many years of experience & training I do disagree. The most sensible attitude is to see life clearly as both an equally positive and negative experience. So when you think that life is more rubbish than good, look for the positive. When life feels more fabulous than bad, look for the downsides to bring you back to equanimity. I know many people in the personal development business who are still aiming for the positive high, rather than the balanced heart centered calm, and I totally understand. It is exciting and very Ra,Ra. However, it can come at a high cost, because the balance to the mania is a big downer, and many end up extremely ill.
In this particular article I’m talking about Mother’s who have a tendency to always put on a positive face, which leads to them misleading each other as to the difficulties of being a Mum. They then lose self-esteem because they believe that they are the only ones struggling, and it can become a very miserable existence for some. The guy who I talked about doing the research into being positive for 2yrs, also knew the creator of the whole ‘positive thinking’ who told him he regretted it terribly – his life was NOT all positive. Many of the positive thinking guru’s you will also find do not have ‘positive’ home lives, to balance out their very ‘positive’ work faces. So there are dangers to being more positive than negative and dangers to being more negative than positive. The ideal is to maintain a balance between them – it is achievable, peaceful, calm and increases well-being. You might like to read the most recent Wikipedia posts about Gratitude and the recent research into that, to add to your understanding about howcome positive thinking is not the whole answer to people’s lives.
And yes it’s an effort to be all positive all the time. It’s just not normal. Plus nobody can be 100% nice 100% of the time unless there’s drugs involved. lol
Thanks Brenda – loving your article about stranger danger, a good example of when telling a child the ‘negative’ side to life can keep them safe & protected – did you get the mobile phone ;o)