- Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author whose TEDx talk “The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong” has over 15 million views.
- She says that while having a positive outlook on life is generally beneficial, a culture of extreme positivity in the workplace can turn toxic quickly.
- Being overly confident and positive can reduce your motivation, make you overlook potential risks or negative outcomes, and even cause you to put in less effort to achieve your goals.
- No one should feel pressured to be happy 24/7 — embracing a little sadness, anger, or anxiety is healthy and important and helps you stay in touch with your emotions.
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It’s common to hear people say things like, “Just think positively,” or “Something good will come out of this,” especially if you’re facing uncertainty or issues in the workplace.
While those words are usually meant to give someone a little comfort during a tough time in life, looking on the bright side isn’t always a good idea. In fact, spending too much time focused on the positive might actually be bad for your mental health. Here are four reasons why.
1. Toxic positivity reduces motivation
Imagine you attend a job interview and you know you’re a little underqualified. The interview doesn’t go well. But, you step out the door telling yourself, “Just think positively.”
You spend the next couple of weeks imagining how great you’re going to feel when you’re offered the position.
So when they call to tell you that you didn’t get the job, you’re left blindsided. It never occurred to you that you might not get hired. That phone call might leave you feeling overwhelmed, scared, and anxious, since not getting the job wasn’t even in your realm of possibilities.
On the other hand, if you’d acknowledged that you might not get hired, you could have spent those same two weeks sharpening your skills, applying for other jobs, or making plans for the future.
The idea that positive vibes can somehow change the future is quite common. But, it’s really ineffective.
Take the vision board craze, for example. A lot of people think pasting a picture of a sports car onto the wall will somehow make their dream come true. But, research shows that outcome-based inspiration, like vision boards, can actually decrease your motivation to make things happen. When you focus on how happy you’ll feel when you get what you want, you forget to put in the hard work that it takes to get there.
Be on the lookout for times when positive thinking might reduce your motivation to take positive action.
2. Being overconfident can leave you ill-prepared
Most people know that a lack of confidence can be a real problem; few realize that overconfidence can be just as detrimental.
If you’re convinced that an upcoming presentation is going to be easy, and you tell yourself your audience will likely hang on your every word, you aren’t likely to…