The Problem With Forced Positivity

How often do we ask people to “Stop being so negative” in comparison to “Stop being so positive”?

Same goes for “Why are you so negative?” and “Why are you so positive?”. Strangely enough, being positive is considered a good thing while being less of that is socially unacceptable, well at least it seems so.

Negative emotions are often associated with weakness and often results in assumption that one is making too much of a deal from little things, or even seeking for attention. But is it really so? Before I get into it, let me quickly define what ‘negative’ strands for in this particular case. I will not be speaking about people who spread negativity by speaking ill of others and are encouraging arguments or supporting discrimination. Instead, I will be speaking about negative emotions we often are expected to hide.

Let’s face it, we are obsessed with all-things-positive. Self-help books, inspirational speeches, and seminars, we all have had a bite of it at least once. The entire concept of commercial advertising and marketing is built on others pointing out how little do we need to be happy and yet how much greater things would be if we owned one thing or another. We live under the compulsion that happiness if the only thing every single one of us should dedicate our life pursuing. And we insist that constant optimism is an inseparable part of us being happy.

Some might say that pursuit of happiness is our genes and I am not here to prove other way. Nonetheless, there is something not quite right about positivity that is sometimes forced upon us.


I am, by nature, a rather realistic person with phases of both extreme positivity and negativity. I have never been praised for being positive. However, whenever I speak about something in a less optimistic way, I always get accused of being negative. Accused as if I must change my way of thinking because it is not right. At times it almost feels that one cannot feel any other emotions but happiness, and have to see the world as everyone wants him to see it. It is not acceptable to feel helpless or utterly disappointed because life is all flowers and petals. Well, no. Let me be sad or angry, let me feel what I feel without forcing me to feel otherwise. I wonder, why should anyone ever feel bad for not feeling good?

I choose to believe that by forcing positivity towards ourselves and others we only wish for the best. Nevertheless, by performing this act of caring we are making others to suppress their emotions, we are walking away from the real problem as we do not know how to deal with it. So why, instead of coping with strong emotions, we try to brush them away?

Sadness, guilt, anger, frustration or grief are the emotions that prove we are alive. We experience them because we feel a certain way about things that are happening around. These emotions shape our character and teach us different lessons about the world and, most importantly, about ourselves. Let’s not rob ourselves of what is ours and instead learn what these emotions can teach us.

We cannot pretend to be positive, as we cannot pretend to be happy. Well, of course, we can always try fooling others but not ourselves. It is important to understand that just by vocally expressing positivity without meaning it, will not make you feel any better. You have to see a positive thing in a situation, not pretend you see it.

Now, I do not try to prove that being positive is better than being negative. All I am trying to say is that nobody should feel pressured to feel one way or another. Thinking positive thoughts when you feel them, and let yourself be down when you need to. It is okay.