Abusing Positivity

Positivity. Perseverance. Gratitude. There is much to be said for these traits. They are proven, brain-friendly strategies that boost perspective, resilience, and success. They can shift me from an attitude of “I have to do this” to “I get to do this.”

But, positivity, perseverance, and gratitude can also have a dark side when they are over-used and abused.

For example:

  • Positivity Over-Used: When I have 18 hours of work to be accomplished in an 8-hour day, I can warp positivity and think, “I can get this done! I’ll just multitask during that boring meeting that’s coming up at 3pm; I’ll do my conference call when I’m in the car; then I’ll just work a few extra hours after the dinner party I have to attend, and I’ll be able to get it all done.” The end result is that I exhaust myself, never stop to question whether there might be some boundary of delegation issues at play, and all the while reinforce in my mind the necessity of 80-hour-work-weeks to survive.
  • Perseverance Abused: When I have a project that is not going smoothly, I might narrow-mindedly continue to apply the same approach and “hammer, hammer, hammer” away at it. In the process, I miss out on the opportunity to collaborate with others on their ideas or try out a new tool.
  • Gratitude Gone South: When I have a difficult person in my life, I might amp up gratitude and think of all the reasons I appreciate and admire the person. All the while, I silence my voice and miss the opportunity to address behaviors that need to be addressed.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for positivity, perseverance, and gratitude (and many other useful mindset tools). But when they cause me to…

  • Stop deepening my thought processes
  • Bury my curiosity about different ways to approach challenges, or  
  • Avoid conflict and challenging conversations

… I have abused these beautiful tools. Can you relate?

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