“Just Be Positive” – The Dangers of This Movement

just be happy

I may get hate for this, but first hear me out. Let me explain how this movement can be damaging if interpreted incorrectly. This article isn’t meant to bash the positive movement. On the contrary, it is meant to educate. The ‘just be positive movement’ started out with good intentions. Those who spread the message mean well. They believe that in order to be happy, you must suppress negative emotions while focusing on the positive. Although, I am a firm believer that fixating on the negative will affect your mood and outlook of life. Suppressing negative emotions is dangerous and will backfire in the long run.

Just be positiveHundreds if not thousands of scientific studies have proven the damage unexpressed emotions cause in the mind and body. Mental illnesses such as, anxiety and depressive disorders can rise from suppressed emotions. Physical conditions like, heart disease, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, cancer, and diabetes worsen or develop when emotional energy builds up in our bodies. Furthermore, relationships with loved ones become affected and people end up developing fear and anger that later turn into rage. Not only that, suppressed emotions will in the long run affect your ability to feel positive emotions such as, enthusiasm, joy, and love.

Now, lets go into the details. What does it mean to suppress emotions? It means to ignore an emotion that has been interpreted as bad or negative. Keep in mind, you cannot completely suppress it. Unacknowledged emotions will one way or another express itself. Usually, in the presence of a trigger or immense stress. Think of unexpressed emotions as energy that builds up in your body. As time passes by there is no longer room and under pressure you explode. This explains why people suddenly have a fit of anger and behave in ways that are out of character for them.

just be happy
Picture by: Ivana Cajina

Where does suppressed emotions go? It is stored in your unconscious mind, which is the reservoir for emotions, memories, and thoughts that are unpleasant or threatening. This explains why many people feel angry and/or sad and don’t know where it is coming from. On the other hand, there is emotional numbness. This happens to people who are constantly exposed to situations that bring unwanted emotions. Basically, they become so used to it. They don’t detect it. Even through emotional numbness, the body will hold on to it until it is exposed.

Therefore, I believe it is dangerous to “just be positive”. I understand why we’d rather focus on it. It’s easier than dealing with negativity. Besides who wants to feel bad? But the truth is if we don’t express our emotions. We’ll end up not only feeling bad but behaving in unhealthy ways. Use self-awareness and most importantly be responsible for what you are feeling. Don’t get me wrong we should all have a positive mindset, but we cannot forget to be realistic. Reflect on why the negative emotion came to be. Then observe the beliefs tied to that emotion and consciously shift your perspective and behavior.

Do you agree with the ‘just be positive movement’ or do you think it is damaging if not properly interpreted? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Feel free to read: Cognitive Distortions & How to Challenge It

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