Positive thinking has been touted as a success tool for decades, and its alleged uses have ranged from helping to deal with difficult situations all the way up through and including playing a part in the physical healing process of the human body.
I’m a big believer in positive thinking myself, and encourage its proper use in order to help us through rough times, as well as simply making life a more enjoyable experience. I am a member of the Positive Blog Network, and, along with my fellow members, enjoy using my writing as a tool to help people make positive changes in their lives.
However, that being said, positive thinking has not been accepted by everyone as the “cure all” that some others seem to think it is. As a result, like most powerful processes that are known to mankind, there is a debate as to the real value of positive thinking vs. whether or not it amounts to little more than wishful thinking.
The positive thinkers in the world will swear that positive thinking is an actual lifestyle that is the basis for everything that they do. However, people who aren’t quite so convinced tend to focus on success tools that are more measurable in their effectiveness.
So, although I myself am an admitted (and proud!) positive thinker, I also believe that keeping an open mind and being aware of both sides of any given coin is always a good idea. To that end, I have put together a few of the potential problems with positive thinking so that you, dear reader, can make your own choices about whether or not to include positive thinking as part of your lifestyle success strategy.
The Problems with Positive Thinking
Positive thinking doesn’t “fix” things – Although it is true that any imaginable situation can be made better by having a positive attitude about the situation itself, that does not mean that positive thinking can change the details of the situation.
If you forget to zip your laptop case and your beloved portable pal comes tumbling out onto the sidewalk and smashes into a thousand pieces, having a positive attitude will not change the fact of what happened. Yes, you can “look on the bright side” and say that you were thinking about getting a new computer anyway, but you will still have to get the new computer!
The difference between a positive and a negative thinker, however, is that the negative thinker will consider all of the ways that the broken computer is going to cause problems in their life, while the positive thinker will consider all of the ways that life will be better now that this has happened.
Both people, however, will still need to get a new computer. One of them will just be happier about it than the other one.
Positive thinking is not the only action to take – Looking on the bright side of any given situation is a powerful way to get through times that otherwise might bring you down. However, having a positive attitude is not the sole answer to any given problem.
Using the previous example of the laptop that went for a tumble on the sidewalk, the option is there to have a negative or a positive response to that incident. Yet, even if you manage to conjure up a list of reasons why your laptop being smashed on the sidewalk is a good thing, you cannot lose sight of the fact that you need to zip up your laptop case in the future.
Having a positive attitude may make that situation better, but if you fail to take action on the lesson that you learned, then you may find it difficult to see the silver lining after another laptop or two comes tumbling out of your bag and smashes on the sidewalk!
Positive thinking can blind you – Perhaps the biggest problem with positive thinking is that running around with a big ol’ smile on your face like life is nothing but a big vacation is simply not realistic, and having that attitude can blind you to circumstances that are not so positive.
I’m not saying that you should go through life with an expectation that something bad is about to happen, but you should go through life aware of the details of any given set of circumstances.
Whether you are talking about something as mundane as a work-place full of people who are just looking out for themselves, or if you are talking about something more physically dangerous, such as walking through a bad part of town at night, there are things that a positive attitude will not protect you from.
If something does happen to you that you perceive to be negative, then yes, your positive attitude will help you to recover from it quickly, to learn from it, and to go on with a better life afterwards. However, there are plenty of people and circumstances in the world that are not positive, so do not let your own chipper demeanor keep you from seeing those people or situations for what they really are.
Positive thinking can damage relationships if used improperly – No matter how much any given person wants to have a great attitude about life, there will always be people who won’t – at any given moment – be prepared to hear that “every cloud has a silver lining”.
When negative things happen to some people, they need to let off some steam or do some healing before they are ready to start looking for the positive lesson in whatever negative thing just happened.
As the consummate positive thinker yourself, you already have a well-stocked bag of tricks for dealing with the negative situations that life throws at you. However, not everyone wants the “mojo” that you keep in your goodie bag, and by trying to force it on them before they are ready, you could permanently damage that relationship.
If you are the type of positive thinker who has zero time for negativity, and you don’t want to hear people whining or complaining about their lives, then that is your choice.
However, don’t be surprised when some people turn away from you and start seeking solace and comfort with someone else who is more willing to give them their time to grieve, mourn, or even just throw a much needed temper-tantrum.
Personally, I fall more into the “don’t bring your negativity into my presence” crowd. However, at the same time, I recognize that not everyone sees life as brightly and positively as I do, so I keep a reasonable amount of patience saved up for rough times.
If someone comes to me with a negative circumstance in their life, I have a shoulder for them to cry on, and some good words of encouragement. However, if – after a reasonable amount of time – they are not willing to find the silver lining and move on with their lives, then I have to let them find their answers elsewhere.
Is that a positive attitude on my part? That probably depends on who you ask! However, no matter who you ask, it is a growth attitude on my part, where I encourage people to grow, rather than stagnate in a pool of negativity based on the curve balls that life throws at them.
So, does all of this mean that I am giving up on the “power of the positive“? Hardly! However, no matter what aspect of life you are talking about, it is wise to understand how and why it all works so that educated and appropriate decisions can be made.
I hope that this information has helped you be prepared to do exactly that!
This post was inspired by the very positive efforts of Kirsten Harrell, whose Positive Thinking Day project is one very much worth checking out! Click on through to Kirsten’s website at ipopin.com to see how you can participate and take part in a new ebook that she is publishing. The book will be given away as a bonus to people who make a donation to the very worthwhile Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Awesome stuff!