My negative experience with being positive.

Positivity challenge: my negative experience with being positive

Not that long ago someone told me about the positivity challenge. The point of it is to only have positive thoughts for an entire week. As soon as you start having any negative feelings or thoughts, you will either have to twist them into something positive or try to think of something else instead.

It sounded great and very promising: no more stress or anxiety, no more sadness, no more anger, only positivity. So I decided to give it a try. In fact, I tried it multiple times and it never worked for me. Trying to turn negative emotions around brought even more negativity in my life.

Being positive all the time had the opposite effect on me. I started to feel worse than ever.

During the challenge I noticed that even though I was thinking positive, I wasn’t feeling positive. For example, when feeling negative after a long and hard day at work I would try to think “At least I have a job. I get paid. I’m better off than the homeless person who’s hanging out in my street. I’m getting paid a lot. I live somewhere nice. All is great.” But my shoulders still felt tense, my hands were shaking, my mind kept wandering off and I couldn’t stay focused on anything.

Then, at some point, I failed the challenge. I wasn’t having positive thoughts anymore and the negative thoughts had come back. Afterwards, I got into a phase of ‘feeling bad about feeling bad’. It was as if a few days of trying to be positive all the time had caused me to feel worse than before. And the only answers that Google could give me were along the lines of ‘You must be doing something wrong’, ‘You feel bad because you gave up‘ or ‘Just do it for a longer time’. So I started the challenge again. And the exact same things happened. And then I gave up again, started again and felt worse again. Eventually I gave up completely.

Positivity is great, but sometimes feeling negative is just as fine. If you know how to deal with it.

The main problem I have with this challenge, or positivity culture in general, is that it doesn’t give us room to be negative. No one wants to be sad, but unfortunately we all have negative emotions or mood swings sometimes. Shutting down or ignoring negative thoughts, or ignoring what’s causing them, will in the long run only cause more negativity.

I discovered that allowing myself to have negative thoughts from time to time is fine. I don’t try to suppress feelings of sadness or anger anymore. Instead, every time I notice myself having any type of negative feelings, I will allow myself to feel the emotion and will try to figure out where it comes from and what it’s doing to my body. Additionally, writing and talking about my feelings has helped me a lot as well.

Obviously I don’t recommend the positivity challenge. But I do strongly recommend analysing your negative feelings or thoughts as soon as you notice them. This will not only make you feel happier, it will also make you more aware of what’s causing your negative thoughts.

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  1. What I’ve experienced is that being positive all the time in life is naïve/impossible, as life consists of both positive and negative things by nature. When I’m unhappy or feel sad about something, I put it down and find an alternative such as listening to nice music, reading a good book or doing some gardening/watering plants if possible….these little things make me feel better 🙂

  2. Wow. Quite an insightful post! Reminds me of our current generation’s endless pursuit for happiness…and endless running away from troubles and sadness.

  3. I totally get you. Here is a sure fire way to feel good: find at least 5 blessings in your day. Whether it be finding a quarter on the ground, someone giving you good news,missing the accident 2 cars ahead of you,etc. If you just find 5, then when your negatives come, you still have your positives! Win win lol.

  4. Interesting. On the contrary, positivity works very well for me and sets the tone for the rest of my day, what comes my way and how I handle it! but hey we are all different!

  5. Balance is key! I have tried this before too and it got rather tiring after a while but I learned that Eventually you just have to realize that negativity is natural. Personally, I was trying to change how I initially jump to negative conclusions without even giving positivity a chance. After twisting my negatives around so many times, I realized the same things you did – I still felt tense. But I don’t think the point is to “fix” anything, but to give perspective. Accept a hard day at work, feel your stress, but also acknowledge the facts: you do get paid. You do have a job. You are doing fine. Etc.

    It made a world of a difference in how I looked at negative situations and feelings! Ignoring your negativity isn’t going to do any good though – we have to be aware of everything we feel, and we have to embrace it and feel it!

  6. I personally have had really great experiences trying to change my mindset to be more positive. But I totally agree you can’t always try to think positive. I have experienced “feeling bad about feeling bad”, but having a good balance and rationalizing your negative thoughts before they spiral out of control has been key for me.

  7. I think that it’s impossible to be positive all the time and when recommended to do this challenge by someone i know i explained that by doing this challenge I would purposely be burying any negative emotions which didn’t seem healthy. Balance is best and if you’re having negative emotions/thoughts then evaluate them and see if you can figure out why and how to fix it, instead of ignoring them.

    1. Totally agree! It’s just not right to ignore negative emotions, we have them for a reason and burying them will only make us more negative in the long term.

  8. This was a very insightful post & I do agree that being aware of your negative feelings and trying to make sense of them can have more benefits than suppressing them and forcing in positive energy all the time. Its okay to not be okay sometimes.

    I love your blog’s theme! Your posts are so well written 🙂

    Nikki O|