OK optimists, we know what you're thinking: "WHAT......there's a downside to positive thinking? Isn’t that the most important thing!?"
We get it. Our series of mindset journals are based on positive psychology and focusing your attention on what is good. However our journals also ask questions to explore our weaknesses, challenges and the things we'd like to improve -- and there's good reason for that.
We're the first to say that positive thinking is a super way to live your life but there's a destructive downside to thinking positively all of the time.
Maybe lately you've been dealing with situations in work and life that are far from great. As much as you try to be grateful and see it from a positive perspective, you might find yourself caught between wanting to be assertive and uplifting and wanting to say just how crap things really are!
Especially if you work with other ‘positive’ people you might notice that if you raise your concerns, you risk being seen as a ‘negative’ person when, in fact you're simply being honest and authentic.
There’s a big difference between being negative and being honest. Therefore, it's important that we’re aware of when we’re being overly positive or overly negative.
Negativity is constant whining and complaining. Doom and gloom. Black and white. Honesty is about telling the truth of a situation and it’s how we create positive change in our lives.
Being overly positive and refusing to look at what’s not going well has a destructive downside that leads to avoiding the truth.
Positive thinking, while it has many personal, social & spiritual benefits, can numb you into a false sense of OK-ness. When we think everything is OK there's no motivation to improve and always seeing life from an ‘everything’s just great’ perspective is nothing more than delusion.
When we look only at the positive we delude ourselves into believing that everything is great, when in reality — it’s far from it. Little by little we compromise our values, standards and potential. We end up settling.
For our lives to expand and evolve, we need to acknowledge the areas we'd like to change or how else can we move forward?
For example, if Lara always tells herself 'my finances are great', when really she's broke, she'll never take the steps needed to truly improve her financial situation.
If John is always telling himself that he's fit and healthy but his actions are lazy and rife with unhealthy habits, then he's just perpetuating a lie that doesn’t help him.
If Samantha don't have the courage to speak up and say what she believes could improved her work situation, then she ends up compromising and risks her whole project failing.
If you accept mediocrity in any area of your life and continue to tell yourself ‘everything is just great’ then you may want to challenge yourself to ask, 'why?'
Change happens when we change and that requires us to look at the negatives as well as the positives.
People who pride themselves on being optimistic all of the time will often do anything to avoid being seen as negative because they fear looking bad.
Life’s never picture perfect and always being 'positive' can be compensation for what’s really going on under the positive happy facade. You might be able to fool others but you can never fool yourself.
Let’s bust a few myths around negativity and perpetual positivity:
It’s not negative to ask logical, rational questions or seek out ways to change or improve your current situation.
Being negative or skeptical is not always bad if you use it to better your life and if it serves to create positive growth.
Being negative is one thing, being authentic is another. The difference often lies in how we say it.
Being positive is not automatically good, especially if it’s used as a guise to hide behind and to pretend that nothing needs to change.
Being positive is no better than being negative. We need both polarities to live a well balanced, grounded and authentic life.
The goal is to be real, honest and authentic.
Have the courage to speak up when you need to, even if that means having a tough conversation or risking looking bad. To speak up when something doesn’t feel right and not to feel bad for doing so.
It takes maturity to be able to have those tough, open, honest conversations, not only with others but also with ourselves. It’s a skill to be able to deliver truth in a constructive way.
Being positive is definitely an ideal way to live, it makes you and others feel great, but it’s not always the ideal way in all situations. You need both polarities of positive and negative to see things as they really are.
Being constantly positive is not necessary to live a happy, fulfilled and successful life. But being real is.