The dark side of always thinking positively
You’re feeling down? Life hit you too hard, so now it seems to you that nothing makes sense? Think positively! When you shift your mindset, your life will change, too. Positive psychology may look silly when you see it from the outside, but it totally changes you when you implement it in your life. Or does it?
Can you really solve all your problems with a smile? Can you find the strength to look at the beauty of this world when your mind is a mess?
Let’s take a look at the main recommendations that are supposed to shift your mindset toward positive thinking:
- Remind yourself that you exist for a purpose and everything happens with a purpose.
- You will achieve what you want if you visualize success.
- You’ll do better without toxic people around you. They disturb your focus and transfer their negativity onto you.
- A single quote on a beautiful background can trigger the good in you.
- Your mind has the power to convert negative emotions into positive ones.
- When you’re weak, you need a reminder to love yourself.
- With a positive approach to life, you’ll be a happier, more harmonious person.
When you’re feeling a bit low, you can keep saying to yourself: “I’m strong. I’m beautiful. I have a purpose. People need me. I can make things happen.” This approach will convince you to turn the TV off, get off that couch, and do something with your life. However, when we’re talking about serious problems, positive psychology can’t help you solve them. In fact, this approach has a dark side: Instead of leading you to a solution, it enables you to keep ignoring your problems.
Popular Psychology: Does It Make You Strong or Weak?
- Authentic Happiness
- Handbook of Positive Psychology
- The Resilience Factor
- Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
- Positive Psychology for Dummies
These are only a few of the many books that teach you how to be happy by thinking positively. Have you ever thought about the reasons why this theme was so popular? It’s because people are troubled. We are all deeply, deeply troubled. Happy thoughts seem to be an easy solution to every problem we have. When we read these books, they shed light on the good things in our lives.
If you take a look at a list of life-changing books with real value, you won’t notice positive psychology themes. The books from this genre don’t have great value in the eyes of literary critics. In the eyes of the troubled humanity, however, their value is huge. Even authoritative sites like Forbes give the readers what they are looking for: a fair share of positivity.
The Problem With Positive Psychology
Positive psychology books are not complete nonsense. Your thoughts have an effect on your actions and your complete well-being. The approach — that’s the real problem. You can’t change your life by reading a book and repeating positive affirmations. Even the slightest personal change is a whole process. If we’re trying to change our whole mindset from a negative to an affirmative, we’re looking the greatest challenge of our lives right in the face.
Self-help books don’t act like an instant pill. If you have a problem and you intensively think for days or weeks on how you want things to turn out, is there a logical reason to expect positive results? This approach labels pessimism as the cause of all troubles. However, we’re forgetting that there’s some good in pessimism, too. We need it to achieve a balance between an idealistic and misanthropic point of view.
Let’s consider a real-life example: You have an extremely challenging research paper to write, with only two days to complete a project that takes months. The realistic chances of achieving that goal are 1:99.
Here’s how the positive you would think: “I can do this. I’ll start writing and everything will be okay.” That seems like a perfectly okay attitude, right? Well, it would be if the chances of achieving this goal were realistic. Now, you’re just ignoring the fact that you cannot write that paper and you’re taking action that doesn’t make sense.
The pessimistic you would think: “I’ll fail this course. I’m good for nothing. How could I let this happen?” This may be closer to the reality in this situation, but it’s not the right point of view to have. It only makes you miserable and it doesn’t motivate you to take any action.
The balanced you would think: “This project is important. I can’t complete it in two days. What options do I have? Hiring any editing or proofreading service will cost some money, but it’s a good solution. I’ll have the paper by the deadline.” This is what we may call the solutions mindset. It’s somewhere between positive and negative thinking.
In other words, it’s realistic.
About the Dark Side
Repeating one positive affirmation after another may seem like an innocent thing to do, but there’s a problem: Those books and pins create an artificial state of ‘happiness.’ At one point or another, that state will collapse. Instead of discovering the reasons for your troubles and working on those causes, you are only hiding them. Pinning three positive affirmations a day may become a routine for you.
During that half an hour you spend on Pinterest, you’ll feel a bit better. However, if you’re essentially unhappy, that practice won’t change anything. You’ll be positive for a second, since these affirmations sound really enjoyable.
And you sit there pinning beautiful images with quotes, not paying attention to the problem that caused this obsessive urge to look for positivity. The moment of awakening will come when you realize this doesn’t make sense. It’s fake.
Positive self-talk is not an easy thing to do. If you want it to be successful, you have to start with a whole process of preparation and awakening, so those affirmations can take place in the subconscious mind and force you into action. You have to focus that self-talk to a specific thing you want to change. That’s a process that may take days, months, and years of work… just for a simple change.
Self-help books, when read at the right moment, may convince you to change something in your life. However, it takes a lot of work and persistence to make something like that happen. Usually, they have a short-term effect.
People have tremendous enthusiasm after reading this kind of book and they can talk about it for hours. After some time, they forget about the effect. They take a similar book, and the circle continues.
Positivity Is Not the Solution. Consciousness Is!
What do you think of a person who smiles all the time? Whenever you feel miserable, they say “But, look at this flower. Look at the sky, the Sun, the clouds. Everything is so beautiful!” It’s even worse when they have challenging personal problems and they act this way. That’s the word for it: an act. Sooner or later, the happiness bubble bursts.
The positive state of being is a philosophy of life, which is not easy to master. The methods are not simple; they require digging into your memories and impressions. During that process, many negative emotions may come to the surface. You want Buddha’s smile? It’s a battle and a long journey through a bumpy road.
Positive thinking is not pointless. However, the process of change is much more serious than this light approach might lead you to understand. Ultimately, being happy is not about being positive. It’s about being conscious. There’s a big difference there!