Positive thinking may be overrated.
Wait — I don’t mean there is anything good about negativity.
Maybe a better way to say it is… Positivity can have its pitfalls.
I began this post as an attempt to understand why i sometimes find “positive thinking” posts off-putting. What i’m coming to realize is that what i’m really contrasting, rather than positive vs negative, is one mode of encouragement vs another.
What i will call Mode One is a sort of tough talk, one that says… “Stop making excuses! Don’t let obstacles get in your way.”
Whereas Mode Two is more like… “You have a lot to deal with. Take the time you need to process and recharge.”
I rarely hear Mode Two as excessively coddling, which, taken to a far enough degree, would be its own inherent pitfall, i suppose.
It seems i more often come across the tough talk mode taken to a degree which hits me as lacking balance. Let me state clearly that i’m not disputing the intent behind it. Now that i think about it, maybe it’s simply that some people are more given by temperament to the first, others to the second. And (or) perhaps the approach we tend to take with others reflects what we believe we need to hear ourselves.
What makes me uncomfortable is that if the stated objective is personal “success” (depending on how one defines it), the resulting motivational-speak can come across as advocating for excessive self-focus, and even as somewhat detached from others’ real struggles. Referring to another’s difficulties as excuses has the potential to be heard as dismissive rather than understanding.
Please know that I’m well acquainted with motivators for whom this is not true! They genuinely care as much about others as themselves and have pushed through their own crucibles. I mean only to say it can still sound that way. (Maybe it’s just me.)