Positive thinking can be powerful, but it can also be limiting and destructive too. While any successful endeavor we undertake requires a certain amount of positivity, it also requires realism. We can be stunted in our personal and professional growth by an overwhelm of positive thinking, or the belief that our positive thinking alone will make things better. Life requires action, not just happy thoughts.
When you take thinking on the upside too far, it can actually result in toxic positivity — a condition that’s marked by the layers of consequences that come from relying too much on your happy thoughts. While looking on the bright side can bring you many things, it can’t bring you everything, but that’s something that takes careful consideration and understanding to realize.
What is toxic positivity?
Positivity is a powerful tool when it comes to creating the life we want to lead, but there can be too much of a good thing. We have a tendency to over-focus on the negative things in our lives, and this manifests more negative energy in our minds, which then inspires negative actions (and reactions) which reaffirm our misery. Going too far the other way, however, can also be detrimental to our physical and mental wellbeing. And it can push us to some seriously dark places as well.
Toxic positivity is many things, but mostly it’s our tendency to over rely on our positive thoughts (or desires) as a means to get where we want to be. It’s insisting that the silver lining is the only lining to look at, or an over-reliance on seeing the upside to the point that you avoid other things in your life that might be uncomfortable or require a greater amount of attention.
When we lean too heavily on positive thinking methods, it can actually cause us to turn away from reality and the emotions and circumstances that are unpleasant or complex. Positive thinking has many transformative powers, but when we dwell too much in the good, we forget (conveniently) to address the bad. Over time, these unpleasant experiences and emotions add up, leading to a potential whirlwind of discomfort and feeling like can take a lifetime to unravel and heal.
The downside of being too positive all the time.
There are a more than a few serious downsides to relying too much on our positivity. While thinking happy can do a lot for our mental and physical health, it can do a lot to damage it as well. It’s important to strike a balance that works for us, but that’s only possible about coming to understand how positive thinking may be undermining our overall happiness.
A drag on health
Like everything else in life our thoughts — and their success or failure — come down to moderation. Thinking too positively can actually lead you to neglect your health, and some studies have shown that negativity is actually more motivating when it comes to our bodies and the way we fuel it and care for it. More specifically, you’re more likely to see to your health when you’re worried about it or unhappy with some aspect of it. When you’re lost in a world of positivity, however, you can be less inclined to take care of yourself the way you should.
If you’re someone who is already struggling with chronic health problems or clinical depression and anxiety, relying on a positive-only thought-diet is more likely to exacerbate your emotional condition. When we are sick, hurt, angry, scared or injured — we have to face these emotions head-on and deal with them in order to truly find our way back to happiness. Dwelling the the realm of happiness and butterflies only can cause you turn away from these emotions and shutter them. Forcing happiness when there are real issues on the table will only make your more miserable.
Any number of articles will tell you to dream big and think positively, but some studies show that this is actually a recipe for disaster. When we set ambitious goals, we’re more likely to feel confident about accomplishing them and therefore more entitled to them. Once the entitlement sets in, we coast, and that can lead to our dreams falling through or fading away. Those who think more pessimistically about their goals are actually more likely to achieve them. Is it because their pessimism pushes them to work harder? Maybe so. The truth is clear, however. Too much positivity = unrealistic expectations.
Despite what you might think, too much positivity can also cause issues in our romantic relationships. Some research has shown that positivity can go toxic when applied to a relationship that’s already strained or strugglingwith a number of other issues. Rather than face the problems we’re having with our partner, an over-reliance on positivity is more likely to make us turn away from those issues, causing them to further fester and compound. Over time, this drives us further and further away from the person we love, therefore eroding our overall positivity.
Toxic positivity seriously impacts our psychological flexibility, which is an important skill that allows us to tap into our psychological resources as needed. This flexibility requires us to use optimism and pessimism equally, creating a balance that allows us to perceive and process the reality of our situations appropriately, despite the stress of day-to-day life…