- Mental Health
Thinking Positively Is Not Always A Good Idea
Think Positively? Not So Fast
Look at the bright side. Think positively. Everything happens for a reason. God works in mysterious ways. It will work itself out. All of these sayings are virtually useless. Not only are they useless, they are also disingenuous, potentially dangerous, and thoughtless as hell.
We shouldn't always be thinking positively. It's not just the cynic in me that is saying this, but also the realist. Sometimes thinking positively is the worst thing you can do. Here is why.
Thinking Positively About Yourself Can Be Dangerous
Thinking positive thoughts no matter what is happening can be dangerous for a lot of reasons. Some people will opt to think positively instead of taking action--in a way, it's sort of like praying. You sit there hoping against hope while nothing gets done. It acts as a quicksand.
To make change, you need action. Positive thoughts without action are just a way to satisfy yourself while the world collapses around you. What if you have a health problem? Do you think it's going to go away just from thinking pretty thoughts? Late on your electric bill? Happy thoughts aren't going to keep the lightbulbs on.
No, you have to visit the doctor and get treatment. You have to pay the electric bill. Supplementing action with positive thinking is a good thing though. Visit the doctor, then feel proud of yourself for taking care of the problem. Ditto for paying the electric bill.
Positive Thinking About Oneself Can Be Delusional
Do you want to be delusional? Well, then stop thinking positively at the most ridiculous times. Those times, more often than not, need action.
If you are at your job and you have had several warnings about behavior or screwing up on the job, what do you do? Do you make a change and address all the problems they told you, or do you go home and think that everything is going to be okay no matter what?
I know it's an inconvenient truth, but sometimes you should worry about what's going to happen in the future. This kind of stress means that you should take action. When you're probably going to get fired from your job, you should be either job hunting, finding a new way to make money, or trying your hardest to keep the job you already have--not sitting there pretending everything is going to be okay when all the signs tell you they aren't.
The writing is on the wall, so read it.
Thinking Positively Doesn't Always Work
This might sound obvious, but to many people it isn't. Another problem with thinking positively is that it doesn't always work. This sets a person up to be even more disappointed than they would've been otherwise.
When you train yourself to think that happy thoughts have an influence on anything besides your own thoughts, you're setting yourself up for failure. My ex-girlfriend was like this. Always thinking about the positive. Always thinking that her positive thoughts somehow affected the physical world. Guess what happened when things didn't go her way? Meltdowns of immeasurable proportions, and gigantic holes to climb out of.
I've met dozens of people throughout the course of my life who do this. I've been guilty of it a few times myself.
Preparation and realistic thinking works much better.
Sometimes You Shouldn't Be Thinking Positively
There are times where you shouldn't be thinking positively at all, because it's detrimental to what you're trying to accomplish.
If you're in a head to head competition with someone else for anything, why would you be thinking positively? Maybe the other person is thinking that way, too. Will your positive thoughts beat their positive thoughts? No, that's silly.
Sometimes a situation calls for grit, determination, and even jaw-clenching grimness. We're apes, not fluffy balls of happiness. We're a competitive social species, not a bunch of cartoons who can warp reality with happy Peter Pan thoughts. No second star from the right, no straight on till morning. (I hope some of you caught that re: Peter Pan)
Save the positive thoughts for after you've accomplished what you're trying to accomplish.
It's Okay To Get Angry Sometimes
Somehow it has become almost a taboo to become angry. Cue the internet meme "You mad, bro?"
It's all right to be angry sometimes. You're an animal and it's one of your emotions. It stops you from being walked on. It stops you from settling for less. Sometimes anger can be the motivation that gets you going.
Some days when I feel like I can't get anything done, I wish I could have real anger to motivate me. It serves me a lot better than sitting there daydreaming about happy stuff.
Challenge The Positive Thoughts Nonsense.
I'm not saying there is no place for positive thoughts because there obviously is. Not many people like to be around those who are grim and depressed, angry or sad all the time. But that behavior [grim, depressed, angry, sad] is the opposite side of the spectrum from people who always think positively.
My argument is that those who think positively all the time are just as delusional--if not more--than the person who is always grumpy or grim. Grim people at least have an inkling of what the world is --sometimes it's a harsh reality. People who think happy thoughts all the time just always seem delusional and childish.
Think logically, think rationally, think realistically. Think positively when the situation calls for it. Just don't be deluded enough to spend your entire life thinking positively.
This is not a Peter Pan movie. There is no Neverland. No second star to the right, and no straight on 'til morning.