When Optimism Is a Bad Thing

We are constantly being told how to be positive, to look upon the bright side of things; to not let life get you down and to remain upbeat. However, there is such thing as too much optimism – there are times when optimism is actually counterproductive and will hinder rather than help. Consider the following –

optimismOptimism can prevent you from being a realist – By looking only at the bright side of things, one may end up ignoring very real and pressing issues that need addressing.

Too much optimism could make a person blind to the real gravity of a situation and by simply saying “all will be well” one could actually not be doing all that is required to be done to actually “make everything well”.

Ignoring problems or refusing to face them can exacerbate them, since sometimes optimism is nothing but wishful thinking.

It can prevent one from expressing grief, anger, fear or loneliness – When one is conditioned to be optimistic about everything, one may deny feelings of grief, which may fester and turn into a deeper problem due to a lack of expression.

Similarly, one may deny oneself the chance to admit to being afraid or something or even being angry at a person or situation.

This will prevent the person from confronting and working through those negative feelings which will ultimately lead to frustration and even depression.

Not admitting to loneliness is like saying that one doesn’t need anyone else to function. Yet no man is an island and we need each other no matter what we say. To be in denial of this central fact of life can have obvious tragic consequences, for the person as well as those around.

Others around the optimist can be made to feel uncomfortable – When one is consistently and relentlessly optimistic, others can feel uncomfortable; even guilty about being realistic or at all negative about given set of circumstances. Others around could find it impossible to express their real feelings for the apprehension of being scoffed at or belittled.

So while optimism is all very well and is undeniably a desirable trait, it should, ideally be tempered with realism. When there is a problem, it ought not to be greeted with the attitude “This is not a problem, things will work themselves out”. Rather it is important to recognize that a problem does indeed exist and then work out a realistic and workable solution to that problem.



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