Updated: Jul 28, 2022
In the last few years, ‘positivity’ is the word in a lot of people’s mouths. Books are published. Shows are being made.
‘You need to be positive.’
‘Positivity is key.’
‘Good thing will happen to you if you are more positive.’
But, these statements are currently known as statements of toxic positivity. (1)
(The last one is borderline victim-blaming, in my opinion.)
A lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions on what ‘positivity’ is have led to confusion.
Last week, I watched a documentary about the infamous Fyre Festival. The CEO was firing everybody, experts, who would tell him; ‘It’s not feasible in the timeframe and resources that we have’, because, as he kept saying, he needed: ‘positive people in [his] team’… And what happened? It was a badly managed project which led to a disaster, the end of a company, and a CEO in jail.
Have you seen the movie ‘Don’t Look Up’ with Leonardo Di Caprio? It is basically about negative positivity. It is showing how the overoptimism of humans led to inaction, and inaction led to their own destruction (by a giant asteroid, in the movie, that could have been destroyed easily in time…).
‘Positivity’ doesn’t make the world work as we wish. It doesn’t make good things happen, just like that.
Sometimes, we need a lot of cups of realism and accuracy in the recipe… to make things happen.
In my opinion, in the concept of ‘positive thinking’, the most important word is ‘thinking’.
(Note that I don’t use the word ‘positivity’, because the proper wording is actually ‘positive thinking’, not ‘positivity’)
Positive thinking does not mean ignoring or avoiding the ‘bad things’ or the ‘bad feelings’, ignoring the ‘negative’ aspects of life.
Positive thinking is about facing the challenges that come to your life, thinking deeply about these challenges, about the facts, and coming up with a solution that will bring you forward, bring you to a better situation than you are now.
Positive thinking goes through a process more complicated than saying ‘I am positive, so I am going to do that, I am going to decide this, and it will happen.’
Positive thinking is: ‘This is what happened. or This is what I want to do. This is my challenge. This is what I know. This is what I think. Are my thoughts accurate? Are they based on accurate facts? This is going to be my next action to move forward: ………………….’. Positive thinking doesn’t exist without the actual action that follows.
I read that looking at things from a positive point of view and focusing on optimism has many benefits, but that “in some situations, negative thinking can actually lead to more accurate decisions and outcomes.” (1)
At the end of the day, it seems that the words ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ are obsolete… The most important is in the THINKING and making sure the thoughts are accurate and decisions based on proper understanding.
Last month, I built my business plan for this year and the next years, my targets based on my offers. I showed it to 2 different business advisors.
The first adviser looked at my numbers and said: ‘You are too negative. You should double your targets.’ They didn’t ask me any questions about how I came up with my plan and targets. I spent hours and hours, thinking, projecting, planning, estimating. But, from a first quick look, I was told: ‘Double it, be more positive.’ My first thought was: ‘Doubling it is absolutely not realistic. And it can not fit with the plan and the strategy I have. This is non-sense’. But the ‘business advisor’ was adamant. I needed to double my numbers…
I then showed my plan without changing it to another advisor, who told me right away: ‘This is not realistic. You won’t reach these targets. They need to be realistic. You are being too positive.’ So we went through all the numbers. I listened. They listened. And at the end of the 2 hours, the conclusion was: ‘this is actually quite realistic, now that I understand your thinking behind all that’.
One advisor was ‘positive’. The other ‘negative’. But at the end, which one of these business advisors was accurately thinking?
Taking decisions based on accurate thinking is for me key. Positive or negative is not the focus at all, in my opinion, because the words themselves are subjective.
How many times have you been told that you were too positive or too negative by someone else, for the exact same situation or exact same talk?
I believe that if someone tells you that you are negative or positive, this has nothing to do with you. Someone will perceive what you say as ‘negative’ because their interpretation of what you are saying is negative. It doesn’t make you negative at all. Someone will perceive what you say as positive because their interpretation of what you are saying is positive. It doesn’t make you more positive at all. It is their interpretation, based on their knowledge and experience.
‘Accurate Thinking’ are the words that I think should be used instead of positive and negative thinking.
Accurate Thinking is not about doubling your business targets and telling yourself every day that you will reach them…
Accurate Thinking is not about ignoring facts, expertise, reality, is not about believing that something clearly impossible will happen anyway.
Accurate Thinking is: not reaching these targets in January, but on the first of February, being ‘back on the horse’, working, managing, analyzing, reassessing, changing your plan, and rechanging it, moving forward, based on accurate facts and accurate thoughts.
And to do that, you sometimes have to ignore the negative positive, aka toxic, statements such as: ‘Be more positive’, ‘Be less negative’.
If you change your plan, it doesn’t make you too negative. If you keep going without changing your plan, it doesn’t make you too positive.
You are the one who knows and you decide.
Source: (1) theverywellmind website.