Why ‘JUST THINK POSITIVE’ does not work and what to DO instead

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” ~ Aristotle

When we are going through a hard time, how often have you heard atleast someone in your life tell you, “Just think positive!”?

Like somehow, when we are in the thick of a stressful situation, when my whole world feels overwhelming, simply “just think positive” is going to magically solve everything! Seriously, who are these people and do they have some magic pill that can make them think positive in an instant?

I am here to put your mind at ease, that although I am a firm believer of the healing power of positive thinking, its impossible to simply be positive in an instant. I have dedicated my life’s work to the study of positive thinking but, I’m not unrealistic about how it is applied to actually work. If simply saying “think positive” worked, we would all be perfectly healed. But, that is NOT the case in the world today, is it!?

Now that we know that simply willing positive thinking is not enough, let’s see how positive thinking really(and realistically!) works.

The Right Way to Think Positively

When we talk of positive thinking, the most immediate thought that we get is to not think any other negative thoughts. Honestly, that is truly and utterly impossible. The human mind, body and spirit is designed to sense discomfort. We literally have 5 senses that are divine blessings to help us do just that. Our senses allow to steer clear from a hot iron, because we know we are going to get burned if we touch it. This is the basic survival instinct.

So, positive thinking does not suggest – I can touch the hot iron, and simply because ‘I am positive it is not going to burn me’, it won’t. It most definately WILL! But, that is just the way Positive thinking is portrayed in a generalistic way. Most self help gurus, while their intention is in the right space, their sharing of how positive thinking or the Law of attraction really works, isn’t really clear or practical, especially when life is being stressful and difficult.

Healing through REAL positive thinking

While there’s no question that dwelling on negative emotions can turn toxic, sugarcoating your insecurities with (unrealistic) positive thinking is merely a temporary fix.

In my research over the years I have first hand seen how unreasonable optimistic thinking can trigger a self-defeating spiral, particularly for those prone to anxiety and depression.

Most of the material out there in terms of positive thinking is skewed with making all of us feel inadequate. Because we can’t always think positively, we start feeling like we are not good enough or mentally strong enough to stay positive all the time. Its like a vicious loop of trying to be positive and then feeling like crap for not being able to stay positive. If this consumes your life, you know this is not remotely healing.

To heal means to accept yourself completely, positve thoughts, sad thoughts, depressive thoughts, insecurities, joys, scars and all. Accepting that you are a human being, who will have bad days and will subsequesntly have to deal with them, is a power like no other. It also means, that you are not holding yourself to an unrealistically high standard, and are being truly honest with yourself.

In order to truly understand and absorb the healing power of positive thinking, we must first redefine positive thinking and change that core belief.

The Healing definition of Positive thinking: Positive thinking means to do your best and then hope for the best outcome. Positive thinking means you will get back up no matter how many times you fall. Positive thinking also means you will still love yourself when you are down.

So instead of unrealistically thinking positive, get real with yourself.


  • Embrace the full range of the human experience.
  • Give yourself permission to fully exist in every mood and season.
  • Feel all your feelings so you can move through them.
  • Be mindful of the stories you are telling yourself.
  • Release judgment and speak compassionately to yourself.
  • Get curious and notice what parts of you still need healing.
  • Work with a professional if you need to heal those difficult parts of you.
  • Never stop working on your healing journey.

It’s like the saying goes, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!”

It doesn’t say simply think about lemonade, or wish you were never handed lemons. It says to make lemonade.  That’s positive action for you! Producing any true positive change in your life demands a progressive series of actions. Without gentle action, there is little chance that you will heal deeply, other than a short-lived moment of bliss.

Being positive doesn’t make your financial troubles magically go away. You’ve got to take action to address them.

So the next time you hear someone tell you, “Just think positive,” say to them: “You know what? You’re right. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go and make some super yummy lemonade!” ……MAKE being the gentle positive action that will eventually lead to successful healing.

You GOT this!

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9 thoughts on “Why ‘JUST THINK POSITIVE’ does not work and what to DO instead

  1. Beautifully Said Zeenat..
    From Experience, while I would wish to think and promote Positive thinking, we have to experience both sides of the coin,…

    I feel too, it often takes us to experience those depths of despair, and dark moments, before we begin to pull ourselves up into the light.. We do that by realising we have to change our ways of being, either by altering our thinking, or actions,

    Wishing you a very Happy and Peaceful 2023.. ❤

  2. You know I love this, Zeenat. You are so right. Toxic positivity is as unhealthy as many other negative thought patterns. It is more like wishing and can lead to suffering because of the expectations it sets up.

    I like your suggestions of what to do instead. Visualizing, affirmations and mindfulness always help me.

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