Advice, Happiness, Optimism

(Don’t) Be positive

I pride myself in always looking on the bright side of things—in being an optimist and taking negative experiences and turning them into positive ones. I can put a positive spin to any situation (I think I have my PR mind to thank for that), but maybe that’s not always the best.

Maybe there are moments in your life when you shouldn’t be positive.

When I told someone I was writing a post about not being positive, he responded with, “No, you should be positive all the time.” I fully expect every single one of you to have the same reaction as he did. Heck, I had the same exact reaction.

I actually thought of this blog post idea searching “positivity” on Google, when I came across an article titled “What good is positivity?” At first glance, I thought is said “What is good positivity,” which made me think to myself, “There’s bad positivity?”

As I thought about it, I realized that, yes, there is bad positivity. There are times in your life when being positive is actually not the best thing to do.

Good positivity

In my (not so) expert opinion, I would say that you should be positive about experiences, especially negative ones, 90 percent of the time. It’s mentally draining to always seek out the negative aspects of life, so I really try to look for the positives in any situation.

When you’re having a bad day, feeling down on yourself or feel like you’re a sad puppy on the side of the road and life is a giant puddle of water that just got splashed on you, you should be positive.

Tell yourself that a bad day doesn’t equate to a bad life. Give yourself a pep talk and remind you of all your amazing qualities. Shake off, grab a towel and thank the world that it was just a puddle of water, not a puddle of who-knows-what. Make yourself feel better about the negative situation you’re in.

I like to refer to this as “good positivity.” It’s positivity that is bettering yourself and your life. This positivity is stopping you from disappearing down a rabbit hole of sadness. You need this type of positivity in your life, because without it, some things life throws at you would just be unbearable.

Bad positivity

If you should be positive of about your life experiences 90 percent of the time, then that means you should not be positive about your life experiences 10 percent of the time (Yes, I’m good at math).

Some of you may see this and think that not being positive means you’re being negative. Just to make it clear, this is not the case. There’s a difference between being negative and not being positive.

When you’re being negative, you’re seeking out the bad in a situation, and that is not what I’m advising you to do. Instead, I’m telling you to stop yourself from seeking out the good in a situation, which (at least for me) is a lot easier said than done, but it’s needed in certain circumstances.

These scenarios can happen more often than you think, and generally involve you making excuses for the poor situation you found yourself in. It’s almost as if you’re reaching and grabbing for any reason to continue to hold on, when you really have every reason to let go.

Think of it as a friend that uses and abuses you. They don’t truly care about you. To them, you’re simply someone to be with when they’re bored. You know this, but you keep telling yourself “I’ve been friends with her forever” or “We always have so much fun when we’re together.”

It’s a boyfriend or girlfriend who emotionally abuses you. They’re controlling and make you feel like you’re a terrible person. You realize this, but you keep telling yourself “It’s not physical abuse, so it’s fine” or “He’s so sweet to me most of the time.”

It’s a job that is physically and mentally draining. Your boss makes you feel like you can never do anything right and you dread coming into work every single day. You know that you don’t deserve this, but you tell yourself “So many people would love to work here” or “I should be thankful that I even have a job.”

Sure, you can say that those responses are simply being positive about the situation, but it is not the same type of positivity I described above. Instead of this positivity making your life better, it actually makes it worse.

Bad positivity doesn’t allow you to take a realistic look at what’s happening around you. You put up blinders and focus on potential good of the toxic situation you are in, instead of realizing that the situation you’re in is negatively impacting your well-being.

Look for the good, but be aware of the bad

For some people (like myself) it’s hard to not look on the bright side. Personally, I’ve been doing it for so long that it almost comes natural to me, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Continue to seek out the positive in situations, but also realize when your positivity is cuasing you to create excuses—that’s the key. As soon as you find yourself making excuses for someone’s behavior or for the reasoning you’re in that situation, realize that’s bad positivity and stop it in its tracks.

Stay positive, but know the difference between that positivity improving your well-being and harming your well-being.


2 thoughts on “(Don’t) Be positive”

  1. Remaining positive is good but at the same time there is always possibility of coming into contact with negative aspect to it too – we have to be ready to face that too in order to be maintain our tempo of being positive.

  2. This is such a great post. It really hit home for me– I had someone tell me this weekend that an important relationship in my life is an emotionally abusive one. A part of me had already acknowledged that a long time ago, but I hadn’t come to grips with it and I continued to use bad positivity to try to hide from this revelation.

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