Why Too Much Positive Thinking Can Be Counterproductive
Recognizing the positive is a way to remember all the good things in life. However, as with everything, there can be too much good. This includes the so-called toxic positivity , that is, relentlessly focusing on only the good at the expense of ignoring the bad.
“The emotions that you feel, that we feel when we deny them, are doubled. They dig holes. They fester. They metastasize. Not only do our senses double and grow, they bring shame to the party, ”said Brené Brown , author of books such as Gifts of Imperfection , Great Courage , Strong Growth , Courage in the Wild and I Dare To Lead “. recent podcast .
Practicing empathy leads to more empathy
Small and large, we all have our sorrows. Whether it’s a kid who skips a birthday party or a person who runs the risk of being in danger every day to go to work, the world is full of fear, anxiety and trauma right now, and for good reason.
We live in a pandemic. We do not know if we will be safe, if our loved ones will be safe. Many of us are also worried about whether we will have a job, how to handle a layoff, or how to pay our bills this month.
In addition to all the big worries, there are also small sorrows. We all mourn the canceled parties, proms and weddings. We all worry about our friends and family members, wondering if they will stay safe and healthy. We are all dealing with an unsafe world together.
When we put all this aside to focus only on the good, we deny those fears. We minimize them, and thereby we deprive ourselves and others of the opportunity to comprehend what is happening. We also miss the opportunity to empathize with others, share their grief and worries.
As Brown pointed out in her podcast, when we try to categorize our suffering in order to give more or less value to a child who missed a birthday party, or an adult who is at risk of exposure every day by going to work, we do it on guesswork. that empathy is finite.
“When we practice empathy for ourselves and others, we create more empathy,” says Brown.
A canceled birthday party might sound like a little to us, but to a child, it could mean everything. An adult who is at risk of infection on a daily basis while going to work may still have a job, but this is little consolation if he is worried about his own health or the health of those close to him at home.
We all grieve in our own way. As grief expert David Kessler said in a recent interview :
“Your job is to feel your sadness, fear and anger, regardless of whether someone else is feeling something. […] If we allow feelings to happen, they will happen in an orderly manner, and this will give us strength. “
Recognizing problems gives us the ability to fix them.
Recognizing only the positive while ignoring everything else also carries the risk that nothing will ever change. After all, how can we begin to solve a problem if we don’t even acknowledge its existence?
Over the past few months, we have seen a tremendous amount of goodness in people. From researchers who develop vaccines and test treatments, to healthcare professionals who risk their health and work hours and hours to care for their patients, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of ingenuity and humanity shown in the past few months.
Aside from this boon, we also saw a host of problems that exacerbated the pandemic. We’ve seen failure in large-scale testing , which is critical to containment and will be essential when we open up again. We already have states opening up without the necessary infrastructure to contain the spread, which is estimated to lead to more cases and more deaths .
On top of all, the US is an anomaly that we do not have a mandatory paid sick leave , and we have a large number of uninsured or insufficiently insured people, which means that in this country there are many people who can not afford to miss work day or go to the doctor.
On top of that, we are in an economic crisis, with 30 million jobless claims filed in the last six weeks. There are many people in this country who are worried not only about a terminal illness, but also about how they will pay their rent and feed their family. This pandemic has exposed many structural problems in our society.
It’s okay to admit that this is not the case. After all, if we are not aware of the problems, how can we hope to fix them?