In this guest tells you why positive thinking is not the answer to everything and in which situations a healthy pessimism will help you.
Have you ever heard such sayings ?:
- “If only you believe in it, everything is possible!”
- “Always think positive!”
- “Ignore the No-Sagers!”
You probably know about such and similar tips. After all, there are enough authors, motivational speakers and other gurus who tell you that positive thinking is the solution to everything.
But is positive thinking really always appropriate?
That’s what this article is all about. In the next sections, you will learn why positive thinking often backfires.
Repression or acceptance?
The logic behind positive thinking is simple:
“Focus on the positive in your life and you’ll get more.”
No question – not infrequently, this approach is also helpful.
If we did not occasionally show very strong optimism, humanity would probably never have evolved.
- Thomas Edison would never have made 10,000 attempts to develop a working light bulb.
- Almost every startup would have given up after the first few weeks.
- And we would not have dared to land the moon without optimism (which is a legitimate question of what brought us all).
The problem is, however, when things become compulsive. And that’s exactly what often happens with positive thinking.
If we assume that we should always be positive, 3 things happen:
- We begin to suppress negative thoughts and feelings.
After all, we must not allow this in any case, otherwise we only draw negativity and unhappiness into our lives.
- What we displace becomes stronger.
Next, we find that the negative thoughts and feelings are not so easily pushed away.
- We also condemn our negative thoughts.
And we feel even worse.
Sounds like a paradox, right?
But that is exactly what often happens when we focus too compulsively on the positive.
Surely you have been in this situation before:
You felt really shitty about something and you just did not want to allow that feeling – for example after a separation from a loved one or after your co-worker was unfriendly to you. And then you felt even worse, because you realized that you could not do anything against your bad mood.
For this reason, it is not always advisable to just think positively.
If you are not feeling well again and you are plagued by worries, negative thoughts, or painful feelings, try the following: Accept what you are thinking and feeling.
Observe it and realize that it will pass by again.
You can not do everything
Speaking of accepting, it does not hurt to accept that our thoughts do not affect everything (even if success coaches and motivational YouTube videos tell you something else).
If you do not study as a student, you will not be able to write good grades.
If you have never had an instrument in hand, it is very unlikely that you will become a top musician within a year.
And even if you think very positively positive – world hunger will also not disappear.
Sometimes we just have to acknowledge that we can not control everything.Sometimes we have to accept that our own abilities are limited. And sometimes the things that happen to us are just shit.
Paradoxically, it is this form of acceptance that ultimately helps us achieve inner peace and happiness. Because only in this way can we put all our energy into things that we can really influence.
By the way, that’s true optimism. Instead of trying to always think positively, you accept things as they are and then ask yourself what you can do about them.
The currents of positive thinking mostly warn us of dangerous pessimism.
And a certain amount of healthy pessimism is not as bad as you might think.
First of all, because it protects us from recklessness.
Just being overly optimistic often causes you to overestimate yourself. A positive side effect of this is that you will approach more motivated and carefree new projects or rush into the unknown faster. However, you overlook risks quite quickly.
- You’re going to do many more things than you can ever do.
- You spend money, which you do not have.
- You ignore problems in your relationship.
Numerous studies prove that you judge things more realistically if you judge them more pessimistically.
One way to use your pessimism for you, by the way, is the negative visualization.
If you have a project that causes you to feel anxious or uncomfortable, do the following:
Imagine the worst that can happen.
Be as detailed as possible and do not miss any eventuality. It is best if you do this exercise in writing.
Relatively quickly you will notice that your fears are mostly not justified. In the rarest cases, the worst-case scenario is catastrophic.
- A date that is not ideal is still just a date.
- Likewise, if you ask for a raise and your boss says no, it will not kill you.
- And even moving to a new city is not the end of the world.
Do I mean to say that you should never approach things in a positive way?
Not at all. Much more should this article bring a message:
It is much more helpful to accept things as they are at the moment.
And now and then a healthy dose of pessimism is good too. Provided you do not overdo it.
After all, it’s the same with positive thinking as it is with so many in life: it all depends on the right dose.
To always think positive and to tell you everything is not a good life strategy.