Positive thinking can be a very beneficial mental disposition if we are realistic with the environment around us and the situation we are in. In the end, many of the problems we usually deal with on a daily basis are more fictitious and self-made than real.

However, positive thinking can become a trap that invites us to avoid facing the problems we encounter in our daily lives.

Positive thinking as an excuse

Although the popular saying is “put a good face on bad weather”, it is necessary to analyze this phrase and be aware that it is not enough just to put a good face on bad weather. Let us imagine a rainy day when we have to go to work on foot. If we do not use an umbrella we will get wet, so we have to find a solution to bad weather: take out the umbrella.

As Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the book Smile or Die: The Positive Thinking Trap , says, “When we have problems, looking away can make us feel better at first, but not in the long run. Being emotionally intelligent will allow us to be connected with reality and our emotions, which in the long run will be better than avoiding the problems that may arise in our lives”. We must face the delicate situations, it is not enough to put a smile on them and hope that they will solve themselves.

How Positive People Are

Our attitude can help us to overcome bad moments in life, but it is not the only requirement to solve the problems we face. Having said that, it is always better to look ahead with a positive mentality than with a negative mentality. When a positive mentality is combined with the ability to solve problems, realism and courage, our well-being increases .

But what are positive-minded people like? These individuals possess a number of characteristics that you can find below.

  • They do not deceive themselves , because they are sincere with themselves and make use of self-reflection.
  • They have high self-esteem and are valued positively.
  • They fall when they get up, and see in the failures opportunities to grow and learn.
  • They fight for their own dreams and for their life goals.
  • They are self-motivated despite the adversities and obstacles they encounter along the way.
  • They do not compare themselves to others because they have found peace with themselves.
  • They live in the present moment and enjoy their day-to-day life.
  • They know and manage their own emotions well and understand those of others.

If you want to go deeper into these characteristics, you can read this article: “11 characteristics of optimistic people”

The problems of positive thinking: its limitations

Positive thinking can be good in some situations, but not in all, because sometimes we get carried away by beliefs based on falsehoods. Let’s see what the limitations of this type of thinking are.

1. Positive thinking is more than just attitude

To think that with a positive attitude we will achieve everything in life and prevent difficult situations from disappearing is a mistake. Positive thinking should always be accompanied by a strong personality and good self-esteem , as well as realistic thinking. Therefore, one can impose a positive mentality on oneself and expect everything to happen in one’s favour.

In this sense, having your feet on the ground is a key factor in avoiding irrational expectations . Positive people can also fail, the key is that they get up, grow as people and go their own way.

2. Positive thinking does not solve problems

Positive thinking can help to be motivated to move forward, but is not the only aspect we should take into account when solving problems . We have to do our part so that things will work out and come out the way we want them to, so willingness and realism are necessary.

Likewise, believing in oneself is also necessary so as not to fall apart in difficult times, because otherwise we would be talking about false self-confidence, and we would use positive thinking to excuse ourselves and not have to face reality. If you want to know more about false self-confidence you can read the article “False self-confidence: the heavy mask of self-deception”.

3. Positive thinking does not equal happiness

There are many factors that influence a person’s happiness, and to believe that with positive thinking everything will be rosy is irrational. As I said, positive thinking is not something that one must impose on oneself , but a person must possess a strong personality and a healthy self-esteem and, furthermore, adopt this way of thinking. However, always in a realistic way.

Positive thinking is not looking the other way when things are not going well, but it is facing reality and accepting it as it is. Then, one can look to the future with hope and work on the path that one desires for oneself.

4. One cannot think positively all the time

You can’t live life with a smile on your face all the time , as if the context in which you live didn’t matter. There are situations in which one has to suffer and cry if necessary, as a way of freeing oneself from the emotions that affect you. Experiencing pain at some point in our lives is completely normal. In fact, the best learnings are those that occur after an adverse situation.

As I said in the previous lines, false optimism is an attempt to hide low self-esteem . It is not necessary to show a smile and pretend that everything is going well. That, sooner or later, disappoints, despairs and frustrates a person.