As human beings who have the power to think and analyze, we tend to view each event from two aspects: positive and negative. The positive is always good. It’s so nice to see everything happen just as we wanted it to. But this is most unrealistic and we all know it. Yet, our reactions to the negative are most unreasonable. It’s best to strike a balance to analyze your situation without creating false illusions of feeling happy or without losing confidence unnecessarily.
Why would you nurture false illusions? This generally happens if you indulge in too much positive thinking. Positive thinking has its limitations and we must understand them.
What is Positive Thinking?
The term positive has different connotations by the dictionary. Positive refers to the presence of a feature, not its absence, or to an approval, or to something that is favourable or it refers to certainty, leaving no doubt. The word could mean different things according to its usage. When we talk about positive thoughts, we are referring to a feeling of wellness and progress and prosperity. It is all about confidence, high self esteem and assuring yourself about getting what you want. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s the best way to pep yourself when the situation is tense.
But the problem arises when we focus so much on the positive that we don’t want to think straight and see the whole picture.
The White Bear Effect
The Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) in Winter Notes on Summer Impressions: wrote "Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute." Another Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) once challenged his little brother to stand in a corner until he could stop thinking of a white bear, thereby causing the poor boy to think of little else.
Obsession, Mindset and the Reverse Effect : Your Worst Enemy
Positive thinking encourages you to believe in what you think. You nurture notions that you are convinced of. There’s nothing wrong with thinking positively unless it’s overdone. There are two possible outcomes of too much of positive thinking:
In this process you are actually suppressing negative thoughts. This is detrimental because suppressing your thoughts may lead them to reappearing or may leave you obsessed with those very thoughts you want to get rid of.
You create a mindset about things going the way you want. When expectations are not met,negative thoughts begin to creep in.
Filling your head with positive feelings and the unrealistic thinking that follows actually intensifies the battle that is already working in your mind between positive and negative thoughts.
What is Negative Thinking?
Letting negative thoughts overwhelm you only worsens your already existing fears, while too much of positive thinking leads to fantasies. It’s good to think of the negative aspect of issues so that we don’t create illusions, so that we don’t escape from reality. But again, thinking negatively could have fatal implications.
The All or Nothing Pattern
Negative thinking means focussing on the negative aspects of things or events. People who constantly think like this have an extremist approach. They can only think black or white. For example, a student who prepares for a test may enter the room with the most negative thoughts ringing in his mind. not knowing the answer to the first question will mean not knowing anything at all for he or she won’t even consider looking at the other questions in the paper. The dominant view is that everything that is happening in their life as only negative and refuse to consider the positive angle. Experiences of happiness and satisfaction are rare in such cases. There’s nothing “in between” for them.
“It didn’t work for me. It won’t work for you as well. Therefore it won’t work for anybody.” A negative thinker sees anything that is bad for him as a bad thing for the whole world. If you didn’t get the job you wanted, no one gets the job that you want. You start labelling things and people in general without considering your actions or your contribution to the situation you are in. You end up jumping to hasty conclusions that are obviously negative.
Having predefined that every positive force is working against you, you end up taking any general opinion or event as a personal issue. It becomes difficult not to consider every person as someone who bears grudges against you and you feed on such thoughts. Your negative emotions become so powerful that you build a wall around you which no one can cross because you fear the people or the things you may encounter.
Strong positive and negative thoughts are nothing but a reaction to stress and challenges that you encounter in everyday life. And it is also true that, the best way to solve a problem is to face it. Positive thinking makes you think practically. You’re optimistic, not fanciful. When you think realistically, you will weigh the pros and cons so that you can arrive at a workable solution. Negative thinking is all about confrontation with the difficulty. It’s important here to not confuse negative thoughts with pessimism. When you induce optimism into your thoughts, your confidence is unwavering and your outlook changes to see the better side of the situation you are in. Balancing your emotional reactions is sure to bring solutions to any problem that comes your way.
Shelly Verma is an avid small business writer touching on topics from health, higher education, self-help, career improvement and home improvement. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including finance andinsurance.