Positive thinking can be a very powerful tool. It can help us face difficult challenges in life and inspire us when we are about to break down. However, it also has a dark side: Excess positivism can become counterproductive or even harmful.
The dangers of naive optimism
In the area of personal growth it is much easier to encourage people to replace their negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Negative thoughts make us feel bad, so if we want to feel better we should replace them with positive thoughts. This is the logic that many people understand and try to apply.
But it is not enough to replace some thoughts with others, the transformation at the base must be much more profound. Positive thinking is powerful when it is completed with objectivity and is based on a solid self-concept, if it is based solely on optimistic phrases it can cause damage.
Every person and every event contains positive and negative aspects. Sometimes, it's convenient to focus on the positives, but overdoing them can lead to idealization, a very dangerous phenomenon that can take us away from the real world. For example, we can be proud of a job well done, but to think that we are "geniuses" is an exaggeration of reality that can also limit us because if we believe we are perfect we will not try to improve.
Likewise, those who seek only the good in others tend to excuse character flaws or are involved in toxic relationships where they are manipulated or subjugated. Seeing the good and the positive has nothing wrong with it, on the contrary, but overdoing it can make us lose objectivity.
Overconfidence in one's own abilities
Self-confidence is important to undertake any project. If you don't believe in yourself, the project is likely to fail before it starts. However, overconfidence, believing you are some kind of superhero, can cause us to lose perspective and still doom us to failure.
In life, it is just as important to be aware of our limitations as to have high self-esteem. In fact, sometimes overconfidence can prevent us from preparing as much as we should, which will inevitably lead us to failure. On the contrary, knowing our weaknesses, flaws and limitations will allow us to be sufficiently far-sighted and even compensate for difficulties with other strengths.
Overestimate the chances of success
In order for a project to be realized, you must believe that it is possible. Either way, convincing yourself that nothing will turn out badly or being certain that the new investment will give you huge returns will make you forget about the potential risks you may encounter along the way.
If you don't take the time to think about things that might go wrong, you won't be able to prevent them and you won't be ready when that happens, so their impact will be even greater. In fact, a study conducted at New York University revealed that fantasizing about all the good we can achieve can be very dangerous because it will cause us to develop overconfidence. What is the solution? These psychologists have shown that we get better results when we visualize the steps we need to take one by one, instead of just focusing on the goal.
Mental strength comes from realistic thinking
Believing that the more positive the thought, the better, is a mistake that we can end up paying dearly for. Our thoughts must include both emotions and rationality. We can maintain objectivity by putting an optimistic twist on thinking. Indeed, true mental strength, that which even the Stoic philosophers spoke of, derives from realist thinking, not from unreal statements or unlikely dreams.
This means that instead of thinking: "I will get the best score in this test" it is better to say: "I will do everything possible to get the best score". This perspective takes away some of the tension and stress you may feel from over-demanding yourself, generating tremendous calm while allowing you to stay focused on what's important. Only in this way are you honest with yourself and reach your maximum potential.