10 "positive thinking" myths that are actually keeping you stuck in life

We’ve all heard about ‘positive thinking’, right? It’s often seen as a secret weapon that can make our lives better.

But you know what?

I’ve been trying to live positively for a while now, and I’ve realized that some things we hear about it aren’t quite right.

There are a few myths about positive thinking that might actually be stopping us from getting ahead in life.

In this article, we’re going to talk about 10 myths about positive thinking.

If you’ve been holding onto these “positive thinking” myths, they probably aren’t helping you move forward in life.

1. Myth: Positive Thinking Means Ignoring the Negative

I used to believe that being a positive thinker meant I had to shut out all negativity. Anytime I felt upset, angry, or anxious, I’d push it aside and slap on a happy face. After all, positive thinkers are always happy, right?

Wrong. This is a huge myth about positive thinking that held me back for years. Ignoring the negative didn’t make me happier; it just made me feel guilty and fake.

The truth is, it’s okay to feel negative emotions. They’re part of being human. Trying to be happy all the time isn’t healthy or realistic. What’s important is how we respond to these feelings. Instead of ignoring them, we should acknowledge them, understand why they’re there, and then decide how we want to deal with them.

Positive thinking isn’t about denying the negative but learning how to navigate through it. Once I realized this, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I could finally be honest with myself about my feelings without feeling like a failure for not being ‘positive’ all the time.

2. Myth: Positive Thinking Leads to Success

Here’s one that really flipped my perception upside-down. Like most people, I always thought that if I maintained a positive outlook, success would naturally follow. “Just stay positive, and you’ll achieve your dreams,” they’d say. So, I tried. I imagined all my goals with a sunny outlook, expecting them to materialize just because of my upbeat attitude.

However, I learned the hard way that success isn’t delivered on a silver platter with a side dish of positivity. Success involves hard work, persistence, and often a good deal of struggle and failure.

Don’t get me wrong – maintaining a positive attitude towards your goals can give you the drive to pursue them. But thinking positively alone won’t catapult you to success. You’ve got to put in the effort, too.

Understanding this myth made me more proactive. Instead of just daydreaming about best-case scenarios, I started making concrete plans and taking action. And guess what? I started seeing real progress towards my goals, which felt fantastic!

3. Myth: Positive Affirmations Always Work

Ah, positive affirmations, the popular self-help tool! I remember standing in front of my mirror every morning, repeating phrases like “I am successful,” “I am loved,” and “I am rich.” I did this religiously, hoping that I’d start believing these statements and they would come true.

But after months of ‘affirming’ myself, I wasn’t any richer, and success still seemed far off. I felt frustrated. Wasn’t positive thinking supposed to work like magic?

That’s when I learned the reality: Positive affirmations don’t always work, especially if they’re too far from your current reality. Instead of motivating you, they can make you feel like you’re lying to yourself.

So what did I do? I started crafting realistic affirmations – ones that were positive but also true for me right now. Instead of saying “I am rich,” I’d say “I am becoming more financially savvy each day.” This small shift made a huge difference!

My affirmations felt genuine, and they motivated me to take action towards my goals, rather than waiting for them to magically materialize.

4. Myth: Being Positive Means You’re Never Stressed

This is a popular myth, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The idea that positive thinkers are always relaxed and never stressed is as false as they come. Here’s an interesting fact: Even the most optimistic people experience stress. It’s a natural part of life!

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can actually be a useful signal that we need to make changes in our lives. The key is not to avoid stress completely, but to learn how to manage it effectively.

So next time you’re feeling stressed, don’t beat yourself up for not being ‘positive’ enough. Instead, see it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and make positive changes in your life.

5. Myth: Positive Thinking Can Replace Professional Help

There was a time in my life when I was struggling, both mentally and emotionally. I thought I could just ‘positive think’ my way out of that dark period. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.

Positive thinking is powerful, but it’s not a cure-all. It’s not a replacement for therapy, medication, or any other form of professional help. For a while, I felt ashamed because no amount of positive thinking could pull me out of my struggle.

I learned that it’s okay to seek help. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re not okay and that you can’t handle everything on your own. Positive thinking can definitely help improve your mood and outlook on life, but it’s not meant to be the sole solution to serious mental health issues.

Once I accepted this, I sought professional help and started to regain control of my life. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

6. Myth: Positive Thinking Will Solve All Your Problems

At one point, I thought that by maintaining a positive mindset, all my problems would magically disappear. I believed that if I just thought positively, solutions would present themselves and everything would fall into place.

However, the reality is, life is messy and complicated. Problems don’t vanish simply because we wish them away with positive thoughts. What I’ve learned is that positive thinking doesn’t make problems disappear; it changes how we approach them.

When faced with a problem, instead of being overwhelmed by negativity and fear, I learned to approach it with a hopeful and solution-oriented mindset. Yes, the problem was still there, but my attitude helped me to tackle it effectively and find a solution more efficiently.

7. Myth: Positive People Don’t Have Bad Days

This myth had me fooled for a long time. I thought that to be a true positive thinker, I had to be cheerful and optimistic every single day. So, when I had a bad day (and let’s face it, we all do), I felt like I was failing at positive thinking. I’d beat myself up for not being ‘positive’ enough.

But here’s the honest truth: Everyone has bad days. Even the most positive people. Life is full of ups and downs, and it’s completely normal to have days when you’re feeling down.

The difference is that positive thinkers don’t let these bad days define them. They accept them as part of life and understand that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes.

Once I accepted this, I stopped putting pressure on myself to be happy all the time. Bad days are just part of the journey, and that’s okay. What matters is how we bounce back from them.

8. Myth: Positive Thinking is the Same as Being Naive

Many people think that positive thinkers are just naive, that they ignore the harsh realities of life and live in a bubble of unrealistic optimism. I used to worry about this too, thinking that my positive outlook might make me overlook important details or make poor decisions.

But positive thinking is not about being naive or ignoring reality. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Positive thinkers are often more resilient because they can see potential solutions and opportunities even in tough situations.

Positive thinkers don’t ignore problems; they face them head-on with a hopeful attitude. They believe in their ability to overcome challenges, which often leads to better outcomes. So next time someone tells you that your positive thinking is naive, remember this: positivity is a strength, not a weakness.

9. Myth: Positive Thinking Means You Always Need to Be Doing Something Positive

I used to think that to maintain a positive outlook, I always had to be doing something productive or uplifting. Whether it was reading a self-help book, practicing yoga, or working on my goals — I felt like I always had to be on the move.

But then, I found myself exhausted and burnt out. I was so focused on doing ‘positive’ activities that I neglected to give myself time to relax and just be.

The truth is, positivity doesn’t mean you have to be productive all the time. Resting, relaxing, and taking time for yourself are just as important. Giving myself permission to slow down and do ‘nothing’ sometimes was a game-changer for me.

10. Myth: You’re Not a Positive Thinker If You Don’t Feel Positive All the Time

This one really hit me hard. I thought that to be a positive thinker, I had to feel positive all the time. If I wasn’t feeling upbeat, I’d criticize myself for not being ‘positive’ enough.

But let’s be honest: It’s impossible to feel positive all the time. We’re human beings, not robots. We experience a wide range of emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, excitement, fear, and everything in between.

True positive thinking isn’t about feeling positive all the time. It’s about acknowledging all your feelings without judgment and choosing to stay hopeful even when times are tough.

Once I embraced this, I stopped judging myself for my negative emotions. I allowed myself to feel them without guilt. And you know what? That acceptance made it much easier to navigate through those tough times and return to a place of positivity.

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Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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