It's ok, you don't have to be positive all the time!
Try running a Google search today and type in the words ‘negative thoughts’ and the first three things that will come up will be ‘stop negative thoughts’, ‘stop worrying about your negative thoughts’ and ‘Letting go of negative thoughts'. The French search for ‘pensées négatives’ is going further, bombarding you with war like terminology, using words such as ‘désactiver (to disable)’, ‘libérer (to free sb. from sth.)’, ‘chasser (to hunt)’, ‘éviter (to avoid)’, ‘stopper (to stop)’ and my favorite ‘en finir avec (to eliminate for good/to go for the kill)’.
OMG! In our contemporary context a negative thought seems to be really BAD stuff!
Why do we spend so much time and efforts chasing away negative thoughts and promoting being positive? Why can’t we just embrace them for what they are and stop overdoing it with all the positivity stuff? Negative thoughts have a purpose and we should really listen to them and reflect about their meaning. I am by no way suggesting dwelling on them 24/7 but rather pausing for a moment and paying attention.
Lori Deschene a self-help guru and author of Tiny Buddha once said: “You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly fine to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared, or anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a ‘negative person.’ It makes you human.” In our society, we are conditioned to see constant positivity as a good thing. Whenever someone is feeling sad or angry, people bombard them with repeated requests to “think positively.”
But, believe it or not, positive thinking isn’t always good for you, as you will find out in this article.
Why Thinking Positively Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
People treat positive thinking as the be-all and end-all solution to problems. Whenever a person is put into a situation where they feel stress, anxiety, rage, sadness, etc., they are told to be positive. They are encouraged to find the good in any situation. But the reality is that positive thinking can become a crutch that people use to avoid confronting these feelings. The truth is there is a lot to be gained by confronting negative feelings rather than sidestepping them by looking for positives in every situation. Social media plays a big role in this idea as well.
As Jennifer Garam, a writer for Psychology Today said: “when I'm depressed, I don't want my depression seeping out all over Facebook and Twitter. I don't want to tweet, "Despairing and feeling like a failure.” Other people feel like this as well, and so they only fill their social media feeds with the positive aspects of their life. But, it’s important to remember that a person’s social media feed isn’t their entire life. Just because they’re constantly positive on social media, doesn’t mean they are 100% positive all the time in their day-to-day life. Social media is a great tool for giving snapshots into a person’s life, but they’re just that, snapshots; they don’t represent the complete picture.
This is actually a big problem for some people. Studies have shown that instances of depression are increasing, especially among young people, precisely because many have trouble understanding that social media isn’t representative of other people’s lives. People see Twitter and Facebook feeds filled with constant positive updates and it makes them feel inadequate and insecure about their own lives.
How Not Being Positive All The Time Can Be Helpful
For some, this may be hard to accept, but the reality that there is evidence to back up the idea that embracing negative emotions can actually be very useful. For example, studieshave shown that those who acknowledge and envision negative outcomes and negative emotions are more likely to work hard to prevent those situations from coming about.
Your takeaway from this article shouldn’t be the idea that positivity is bad and that you should always be pessimistic. Rather the point of this article was to show that being completely positive all the time isn’t a good thing. Part of being human is going through bad times and feeling negative emotions. It’s completely normal and healthy to embrace them. Instead of ignoring bad emotions, accept that everyone has them and embrace them.
Think of it this way, if you constantly ignore negative emotions and outcomes in favor of “positive thinking,” how well are you going to be equipped to deal with negative emotions and failure when they eventually catch up to you and can’t deny them any longer?
Marie claude Bouchet
Professional development, Personal development, mental wellbeing, stress management, resilience etc.