Nobody can doubt that optimism is an attitude that can take us very far in life and can help us to be happy . Optimism is a virtue, as long as the optimistic person has a high degree of self-confidence and is realistic about the environment around him/her.

Otherwise, we would be talking about false optimism . And as Abraham Maslow, one of the greatest exponents of the humanist current, said, “False optimism, sooner or later, means disillusionment, anger and despair”.

In this article we will talk about false optimism and will go into this concept and its characteristics in depth.

What is false optimism?

When we adopt a positive and optimistic mentality the world seems to turn in the direction we want it to. But for optimism to be genuine it must be in tune with our self-esteem, because with low self-esteem, optimism simply masks our weakness.

Feeling good about oneself is fundamental for us and for relating to the environment around us.High self-esteem makes us much more positive, aware of our strengths and weaknesses and that, after accepting ourselves as we are, we can look ahead without fear. High self-esteem allows us to adapt to the environment around us with a smile, even though not everything goes well for us. The true optimist learns from mistakes, because his worldview allows him to accept defeat and understand that we are not perfect.

However, optimism has become fashionable and some people want to appear optimistic when their inner world is cracked. They do not have a good connection with themselves, but they cover themselves with the shell of optimism. False optimism feeds the unwillingness to face reality in order to escape from problems , and becomes a double-edged sword that sooner or later ends up damaging. In short, it hides a denial of pain and suffering.

Characteristics of the false optimist

People with false optimism rely too much on external approval and use optimism to avoid having to reflect and face their fears. But, what characterizes this type of individuals? People with false optimism have the following traits and attitudes:

1. Unrealistic

Such individuals are unrealistic and use optimism to escape frustration and the fact of having to face an unpleasant reality. In order to grow as human beings we must face our fears and be tolerant of frustration, otherwise we do not benefit from the life experiences that make us suffer, which in the long run are what allow us to develop a strong personality prepared for the situations we like the least.

To live happily 24 hours a day is impossible , so we must accept it. Besides, false optimists do not usually achieve the goals they set, because they are not realistic and false optimism ends up frustrating them.

2. are not honest with themselves

These types of individuals are not honest with themselves, and that is why this phenomenon is called false optimism. This self-deception is usually frequent when someone does not want to accept the reality that surrounds him , it is an attempt to reduce the anxiety and discomfort he feels.

  • This is called cognitive dissonance. We explain this in our article: “Cognitive Dissonance: The Theory Explaining Self-Deception”

3. Are assessed negatively

As I have commented in previous lines, this type of people are not valued positively, that is, they have a low self-esteem . In this context, false optimism acts as a form of protection, since the person does not have enough mental strength to resolve both internal and external conflicts.

4. Not living in the present

There is a lot of research that has shown that people who practice Mindfulness enjoy greater well-being. This is because they live in the present moment and have a non-judgmental attitude. People with false optimism live with irrational expectations, far from a “mindful” mentality .

  • You can learn more about the benefits of living in the present in our article: “How to live in the present moment, in 7 psychological keys”

5. Not self-motivated

False optimism may seem like a good motivational tool, but it is not because expectations and goals are irrational. Applying false optimism to achieve goals can have negative consequences. Therefore, it is always important that the goals we set are achievable, realistic, clear and measurable, as we explain in our article: “The importance of setting goals in Sports Psychology”.

6. They have not found inner peace

When a person has not found inner peace it is easy for him to be influenced by the outside world and for his happiness to depend on it. They are people who compare themselves to others and are continually concerned about what others think of them . False optimism is characteristic of those subjects who are not really aware of their emotions, virtues and limitations. People who do not accept themselves as they are.

The trap of false optimism

To believe that one is optimistic when one is not, is a serious mistake, because this makes people not go into their inner world and this “prevents them from connecting with their inner world”, as the psychologist Juan Cruz states in an interview with the newspaper El Mundo. Optimism is a trap that does not allow self-reflection, which has many benefits for personal development as we commented in our article: “Personal Development: 5 reasons for self-reflection”.

The trap of false optimism is just as bad as pessimism , because it prevents people from learning from their experiences, something that is undoubtedly key to our growth and development.