The Problem with Positive Thinking

the problem with positive thinking

There is a lot of good we get from positive thinking. It helps us look for better options, move forward when we’re not sure how to get where we’re going, and make the world better. But there’s a dark side to it too, and the problem with positive thinking may be more ominous than we realize.

The Power of Positive Thinking

It’s easy to see what amazing things positive thinking has accomplished. After all, if it wasn’t for the belief that we could accomplish great things, we wouldn’t have many of the things we have today. Giant skyscrapers, powerful smartphones, and record-breaking cars that run without fossil fuels are all possible because someone believed in it and made it happen.

There are so many things that we owe to the people who saw possibilities and brought them into reality because of positive thinking – because they believed they could.

But is there something lurking underneath? Is there something masked by positive thinking that the tenets of gurus such as Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, and others would have you not see?

Is there a dark side to positive thinking?

Demolition Man

In the sci-fi movie Demolition Man police officer Sergeant John Spartan is cryogenically frozen and then released nearly 40 years later in the year 2032. The world is a near utopia and everything seems peaceful and calm. Spartan is brought back to track down a criminal and apprehend him.

Only, as things progress, he quickly finds out that the world isn’t a utopia at all. There is still hunger, and fighting, and other challenges, only the people who face them are all in hiding. The world isn’t perfect; the people simply sweep all the imperfections under the rug leaving a cold, clean, sterilized world on the surface.

The Problem with Positive Thinking

The problem with positive thinking is exactly that: the people that promote it most strongly are often promoting an idea of a world without negative emotions.

I recently finished an audio book by Brian Tracy, and, although I love so much of what he has to offer, he says he doesn’t have negative thoughts. He focuses only on the positive. What a shame.

What about people who’ve lost a love one? What about people that suffer from abuse? What about people who are struggling due to unfair systems that try to keep them down, like racism, if not now, in the 60s? What about people that were dealing with slavery or even today who deal with it?

The problem with positive thinking isn’t only that it assumes that everyone can just “positive their way out” of something. More importantly, it assumes we are on the right path. It projects “if I just believe hard enough” I’ll get what I want, even if that’s not the right thing.

There is a better way.

A Better Solution

Instead of looking only at the positive, weigh it all. Be solution focused. Don’t just blindly do something that you want without considering all the consequences.

That means that you have to be ready to hear bad news, see the people in the world who are hurting, accept your responsibility in the pain that you’ve added to the world and dp your best to remove it.

You can’t avoid the negative. You can’t ignore it. You simply need to find the right way to deal with it. The problem with positive thinking is that it makes us ignore all the negative things in the world that need to be addressed.

Instead, be solution focused. Accept the negative. Be ready to accept something you don’t want to hear. Pay attention to things that are not as perfect as you would like them to be. The only way to make the bad better is to know it’s there. Don’t be afraid to see the negative, then you can be ready to make the world better.

David Bishop

David is CEO of Cedowin Productions, dedicated to helping you live your best life through positive habits. He has inspired tens of thousands to improve habits and communication through books, articles, workshops, and apps. He is the creator of AweVenture, helping families enjoy fantastic, active experiences and Zombie Goals, literally making building healthy habits a game. He’s authored several books including How to Create Amazing Presentations, 7 Steps to Better Relationships, and The Man in the Pit, which helps people who have loved ones struggling with depression.

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