People always tell me that I’m too negative and I should think more positively, I’ve never known in my life for “thinking positive” to vastly change to outcome of anything that was out of my control.
I have a friend who thinks positive about everything, about things that are completely out of the grasp of control and still she will think positive, but she never explains how her pattern of thought will help? What magical power she’s tapped into that makes her so sure that her advice works despite the many times life has actually proved the opposite.
I have another friend who suffers from depression and has attempted suicide many times. She was always a great believer in Karma; what goes around comes around… This is another one of those things that is just a saying and has only ever shown that quite often the opposite is true. People rarely get what they deserve, good people are harmed and go through great difficulties, a baby can die within moments of taking it’s first breath, and yet murderers and vile people can walk the world healthy and unpunished and yet people will believe that eventually Karma will get them?
She’s recently started to talk about only thinking positive, no more negativity, thinking positive will cure all her problems, thinking positive will change her life.
I don’t know where people get this idea that positive thinking is the cure for anything and everything, I must’ve missed the newsflash.
Now it’s only my opinion and I may not be 100% correct but my belief is that positive thinking can be as damaging as negative thinking.
There are people in the world who have never felt more than a little sad, they’ve never felt depression, they’ve never felt suicidal and they’ve never tried to kill themselves. These people are probably the best candidates for positive thinking, they have the right mindset for it.
But I would think the opposite person would be the worst for it, because people seem to think in order to think positive you can’t have caution or concern, that you must believe 100% that everything will be ok, that’s unhealthy. that’s harmful to someone who suffers from a mental illness.
If I thought positive about everything, about all the things I wanted and hoped would happen, my health improving, my sister reconnecting with me, finding and keeping my perfect job, travelling, never losing the people I love.
If I felt positive that all of those things would happen, if I felt even 100% positive that one of the things would happen, and then it didn’t, I’d be crushed. Some in differing amounts, but ultimately I would come crashing back down to my low place and have to build myself up again.
I cannot promote the idea of positive thinking when people won’t admit that positive thinking isn’t the answer to everything, when they won’t allow for doubt, it’s not healthy and it’s not realistic.
I know myself well enough to know I have to protect my wellbeing, to protect my mental health, I acheive this by never allowing myself to get carried away with an idea, I’m sparing myself from disappointment, from failure, from rejection.
The world isn’t a place where things are as simple as our thoughts and approach to life. If it was, we’d all be happy, there’d be no bad and it’d be heaven on Earth.
I think we should promote people to think realistically, to try their best, to have hope, but also to anticipate and prepare that things don’t always go our way. I’ve seen people fall apart because something bad happened, something that could’ve been handled if they hadn’t thought they were immune to anything bad happening.
If I’m going for a job interview I prepare, I present the best of myself, I try my best, and I hope for the best, but I also reverse my dreams, because if I get carried away and it doesn’t work out; I’m gonna feel like a failure amongst other things and then the next interview that feeling will creep in every so slightly and before long, I have no self esteem and I feel worthless and I’d turn up at the job interview and not be able to answer a single question without thinking ‘you don’t want me, I’m nothing’
Holding back, not completely, just a little, holding a little something back means that when something doesn’t go your way, you can stop for a minute, dust yourself off and carry on, because you always knew this was a possibility, because that’s life, it’s 50/50 or 70/30, who knows, there’s always a proportion out of your control and no amount of positive thinking will change that.
That’s the gist of my thoughts on thoughts, Positive, Negative and Realistic.
I’ve found some other things in order to try to explain that my opinion maybe valid, but in the end it’s about what works for you, realistic works for me, it keeps me healthy it keeps me sane, and if positive is good for you that’s great, but don’t tell me I’m wrong because it doesn’t work for me, I know what’s bad for me and I know what’s good, trust me, I’ve made it to 29 after 18 years of depression and anxiety and I keep fighting because when I fall I pick myself back up, alone.
In a 2000 article University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson, a founder of the positive psychology movement, distinguished realistic optimism, which hopes for the best while remaining attuned to potential threats, from unrealistic optimism, which ignores such threats.
A 2007 study by University of Virginia psychologist Shigehiro Oishi, University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener and Michigan State University psychologist Richard Lucas reinforces Peterson’s concerns. Using analyses from several large international samples, they found that although extremely happy people are the most successful in close interpersonal relationships and volunteer work, moderately happy people are more successful than extremely happy people financially and educationally and are also more politically active. Admittedly, Oishi and his colleagues measured happiness rather than optimism per se, although the two tend to be fairly closely associated. Still, their findings raise the possibility that although a realistically positive attitude toward the world often helps us to achieve certain life goals, a Pollyannaish attitude may have its costs—perhaps because it fosters complacency.
Positive thinking surely comes with advantages: it may encourage us to take needed risks and expand our horizons. But it has downsides as well and may not be for everyone, especially those for whom worrying and kvetching come naturally as coping mechanisms. Moreover, positive thinking may be counterproductive if it leads us to blithely ignore life’s dangers. Finally, as journalist Barbara Ehrenreich warns in a 2009 book, the pervasive assumption that positive attitudes permit us to “think our way out of” illnesses such as cancer has an unappreciated dark side: it may lead people who fail to recover from these illnesses to blame themselves for not being more chipper.
In a 1990 book Seligman warned that optimism “may sometimes keep us from seeing reality with the necessary clarity.”
Pop psychology may urge you to replace negative thought habits with positive ones. But that just exchanges one distortion for another. What you need is to change distorted thinking, be it positive or negative, into accurate thinking.
As the researchers report in Psychological Science, those with high self-esteem who repeated “I’m a lovable person” scored an average of 31 on their mood assessment compared with an average of 25 by those who did not repeat the phrase. Among participants with low self-esteem, those making the statement scored a dismal average of 10 while those that did not repeat the phrase managed a brighter average of 17. Dr Wood suggests that positive self-statements cause negative moods in people with low self-esteem because they conflict with those people’s views of themselves.
Ehrenreich notes 60% of female breast cancer patients attributed their continued survival to a “positive attitude,” yet studies repeatedly show no correlation between developing or surviving cancer and mental attitude. No, you can’t smile away a tumor, says Ehrenreich, who survived both breast cancer and the optimistic pink ribbony milieu that’s now spilling over into prostate cancer. (One researcher writes the disease is “an opportunity” and a way to “evolve to a much higher level of humanity,” rather than a ticket to incontinence, impotence and death.)
Since when are irrationality and self-delusion ever useful–aside from when you’re a condemned murderer and it’s 10 minutes till midnight? Mankind didn’t make it this far through the power of positive thinking, but rather through what Ehrenreich labels “defensive pessimism.”
Life for most of us isn’t sugar-coated and believing otherwise leaves us ill-prepared. Not surprisingly there’s research showing that pessimists are better able psychologically to handle bad events, while one study found that women who perceive more benefits from their cancer “tend to face a poorer quality of life.” Whaddya know? A malignancy isn’t like winning the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes!
The Serenity Prayer’s invocation to have “courage to change the things I can” and “to accept the things I cannot” is a much better guide than anything Dale Carnegie ever wrote or that your life coach has to offer. Just remember that while life can be beautiful, pretending it is doesn’t make it so.