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The dangers of positive thinking

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Positivity and the positive mindset have become somewhat of a buzzword/phrase on social media – everyone always posting wee phrases, statements, all aimed at shifting our mindset out of negative patterns and into positive ones (I can be guilty of sharing them myself sometimes), and sometimes that demand for constant positivity can be dangerous.

On the surface this seems to be a great thing – to encourage us humans out of that negative, not enough, mindset. And the right sentence at JUST the right time MAY well be life changing. However, it also encourages us to think we ALWAYS have to be that way, that we are ‘failing’ if we are not ALWAYS positive.

My friend the other day mentioned struggling to stay in a positive mindset – but one of her neighbours had literally just died – so as far as I’m concerned she SHOULD be sad! (and Im not a fan of shoulds haha).

Positivity as a mindset does, in my humble opinion, mean that we must always be HAPPY. Happiness/joy/elation, whatever you want to call it is a FEELING, an emotion, and is transient just like all the rest.

Emotions such as grief, sadness, anger, frustration and even LOVE (which I’ve heard the youth of today saying they ‘catch’ – which to me makes it seem like a contagious disease – something, surely, no one WANTS?), are all important and part of what it is to be a human. Having empathy allows us to build communities – allows our children to have support growing up.

Anger helps us see that we are not heading in the direction we want to be, that someone or something (including ourselves) are stopping us on the path we want (and more fundamental to that – without that adrenaline, that power that comes with anger – we wouldnt be hunters).

Without grief we wouldn't be able to let go of what/who IS no longer.

Once the hurt of grief has passed we can learn to appreciate what that person/thing gave us, my friend for example can start to appreciate the relationship they had with their neighbour – she can learn to value the positives in that relationship, whilst allowing herself to grief for that lost relationship.

For me positivity is NOT about ALWAYS being ‘happy’. it's about finding the positives DESPITE the negative. My mental health has created a rollercoaster of cycles of depression, of a binge eating disorder, of anxiety. The positives from this cycle, are that it is an area of health I have explored, finding out how to help myself (and others) to create a better, more stable life for myself. It has driven me to learn what my soul truly desires in life, and allow me to do what gives me great satisfaction – easing the suffering of others. If I didn’t allow myself to be upset by seeing others hurt, I wouldn’t be the acupuncturist I am (I probably wouldn’t be an acupuncturist at all!)

I think positivity is about remembering that EVERYTHING is temporary – so it's important for us to remind ourselves regularly (daily) for the things that are good – so on the bad days we can reframe, we can stop the ‘bad stuff’ from becoming overwhelming. To be positive, and embrace that life truly is a rollercoaster – it is forever in a state of change.

So please DON'T beat yourself up for not always being positive and happy – its impossible! The more we block ourselves from feeling, and processing and USING those feelings, the more we stay stuck – unable to move on and LEARN, to GROW in the wonderful, crazy rollercoaster of life.

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