8 Comments to
What’s Wrong with Positive Thinking?

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  1. This is a wonderful article. In its minimal engagement into the human psyche, it covers a multitude of functioning capacities. One would think that when the word (think) arises it is specifically related to the thought process, and it is. However, this article exposes the importance of nurturing the thought (thinking) process to strenghten the optimistic perspective across a continuum that levels the functioning capacities[mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional]to have healthy and vibrant psychologocal effects. “If the glass is half full, how is it seen, for better or for worse”. I believe that everyone can use a positive advancement in all areas of their lives. This article is an open door to utilize thinking in a more effective and complete way.

  2. It very simple that we know intellectually that we are lying to ourselves when we try to over sell unrealistic positivity, and so ultimately we feel worse because we know we are lying.
    Another good strategy is to create little victories and celebrate those in context. This creates very real feeling that can be used to combat the either real or imagined bad feelings.

  3. Truthfulness is the key to all healthy development, be it of an individual, a project, an organisation, or a community. But truthfulness requires courage, and to have that we need the experience of being valued and supported. We label our experience not in an absolute way but in a way that relates to our (psycho)social context. Our *alienation*, for instance the extent to which we absorb video-realism as reality, contributes to a lack of realism. When our psychosocial context is robust our assessments of our *fit* and the fit of our experience with it become more *truthful* or aligned to a viable contextual frame. When we are unsupported psychosocially our ability to create and sustain a balanced and healthy self-assessment is dramatically undermined. A vicious spiral is created as our inaccurate and inappropriate self-assessments weaken our links to our psychosocial context which in turn weakens and makes that context less capable of supporting us.

    • Thanks Robin, that makes a lot of sense.

  4. We us the intellect far too much in this country and its way out of its league when trying to harness the emotional states and this is especially so when emotionally immature adults which most of us are.
    While I believe that being cautious is hard wired I feel it only pertains to protectection of the physical body period.

    If we continue to beilieve that the above is also responsible for what appears to be a predispostion for negative , defensive, and dark emotional states we would not only be wrong but also allow for humanity to remain in its down spiraling tragic state.
    Its no secret that we are molded and conditioned by family as well as society through the systems that operate within them.
    The repeated emotional experiences that are lived within these systems are the shapers of the latter states. Unless we address these and how they are impacting the mental health we will continue to stifle the great potential to fully express what it is to be a human being.
    This is no fairytale ideal , but a reality that is most pragmatically sound but can’t be even imagined until a greater awareness of our emotions and how integral they are in navigating life having far more influence than that of the intellect.

  5. Good article. I’ve been rethinking this whole idea of “positive” thinking. Sometimes I wonder if people sometimes want others to ‘stay positive’ because they simply don’t want to hear about other people’s problems? Kind of fair-weather friend-ish if you ask me. Anyway, I used to stick up for all the so-called positive thinking but after reading all those various positive thinking books and theories like The Secret, I’ve noticed that there’s a fair amount of narcissism and denial tied in with many of the motivational stuff. It seems to have no provisions for people with genuine and serious problems that can’t just be “smiled” or “affirmed” away. There are times when one NEEDS to cry, to vent, to complain…and not necessarily have someone rush to solve the problem or even the person have to solve it themselves right then and there. The person going through hard times needs to know the person a true friend who CARES and who will listen to them and love them no matter what negativity thing they may be going through at the moment. As it says in Ephesians 3 (as made famous by the Byrds in the 60s) To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heavens….

    • I am looking to be more positive because I tend to be pessimistic negative and depressed. Thinking negative is not working for me. I whole heartedly belief in telling the truth and what you state here about positive thinking is the same I feel about being in the church community. I felt I was not allowed to have problems or be depressed. In fact often told depression is a sin. Denying your feelings has been extremely unhealthy for me. I believe In affirmations that are true. It’s balance. Being negative has not lead to anything positive except it gives me the right to speak on this subject because I bare in my body and mind the scars it brings. Life is hard sometimes. Cry if you need to and don’t be ashamed like I was!

  6. I think there’s a rather subtle problem with all this debate over thinking approaches.

    The issue is over how you develop and give advice. Traditionally we say “do this” or “this is the way to do that” and the theory is that we just follow it. But the mind doesn’t work that way, and it’s not even a case of practice. It has to be more natural and less patronising than the militant “be positive” mantra.

    Anyone familiar with real CBT (real, and supervised by a quality therapist ie not the mangled BS I see on the web) will know that a more effective way is to experiment, stand back and challenge beliefs.

    First time you do this, particularly if guided by a good therapist, you will probably find a lot of negatives are unjustified. But you also find that not all negativity is unfounded and that some positivity is dangerous. The difference between it and positive thinking is HUGE.

    Ultimately if you want to escape the tyranny of positive thinking do CBT. You’ll see through the inconsistencies of positive thinking and that being aggressively told to think positive is more damaging than any defeatism you might have. At the end of the day it is patronising, involving looking up to “positive thinkers” and doesn’t revolve around solving your own problems like proper therapy does. Ultimately positive thinkers twist everything you say to insinuate you have no confidence in yourself when you probably have and will let you down . Steer well clear.


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