Do you ever hear positive quotes and inspirational messages and just aren’t in the mood for them or find them annoying? Instagram and Pinterest are riddled with positive quotes and inspirational messages. Stephanie Lynch mentions four reasons why she posts positive messages: 1) you never know who’s watching or reading, 2) some feel there is too much negativity in the world, so they combat it with positive messages, 3) negativity can make you negative, and 4) people remember the negative more than the positive.
When I Googled “happy quotes,” almost 10,000,000 responses were returned. There is no shortage of positive quotes. However, some haven’t been able to jump on the “feel good” train that these messages advocate. To my surprise, many feel that positivity is a lie, it’s hypocritical, and just fluffy insincere, inauthentic deceptions. To combat the wave of positive messages, there is a whole Instagram page dedicated to uninspirational messages called “Unspirational” whose owner embraces all things negative.
Why this backlash against positive qotes and inspirational messages? Ask youself: why could positive quotes and positive people be annoying?
Before we can look at why positivity might not agree with you, we have to explore possibly your own erroneous thinking about yourself called false beliefs that may be sabotaging your ability to embrace a positive message. A false belief is an idea about the world that may contrast with reality.
For example, if your inner self-talk, or false belief, is about you being unloveable, less than others, or inferior, it will be difficult for you to adopt a different mindset. I can put as many positive quotes and inspirational messages in front of you, and you will not be dissuaded from what you believe because those false beliefs are ingrained in you.
Positive quotes are not magical wands that banish negative thinking. However, if we can change whatever our false beliefs are, then we can begin to challenge ourselves of the idea that we might not be as bad as we perceive and that our “reality” may not be as we perceive it.
It takes courage to challenge those beliefs. If we don’t test those negative perceptions, then positive messages and happy quotes could be a threat to our status quo, and usually our status quo leaves us unahppy and unfulilled.
THE NEED FOR POSITIVE THINKING
Marquita Herald in her article, “We Love to Hate Positive Thinking,” has the following to say about why positive thinking is needed.
“It might help to consider positive thinking as a way of using your thoughts to help you muster the energy and confidence to move forward rather than becoming mired in feelings of hopelessness and negativity, which only serves to keep you trapped and discouraged.”
When you see a quote or positive message, it’s not a condemnation of your ability to overcome the obstacles and setbacks you face. Inspirational quotes are designed to steel your resolve to muscle through the hard times, to not lie down face down in despair and hopelessness.
No one is saying that negative emotions don’t exist or that you aren’t entitled to them. But the point is not to let negative feelings define you. In the mental health community on social media, we promote that it’s okay to not be okay. Feeling down every now and then doesn’t negate the power of positive quotes and thinking. It simply means that it’s okay to not always have to be on top of the world and conquering your worst fear.
Mike Oppland, co-founder and co-director of xpertcoaching.com puts forth what he believes positive thinking can do. He writes,
“Positive psychology doesn’t merely seek to get rid of all negative thinking and emotions and replace them with positive ones, rather it attempts to determine ways in which you can live contentedly while still experiencing negative situations.”
Happiness is a choice, and so is unhappiness. Some have given up on life and are stuck in depression. Positive thinking is not a tool to banish all negativity and forget life’s troubles, but rather a way to help you keep focused and see the good in even the worst situations, so the circumstances can become more manageable and not swallow you whole. It’s a choice you have. Positive thinking doesn’t make negative thinking disappear, but it gives you a fighting chance to overcome it.
HOW TO HANDLE POSITIVE QUOTES
When you come across a quote that sounds good, but you just can’t relate yet, hold on to that quote and wait until you’re in a better position to apply the quote. Being positive is about being brave. When we face ideas and notions that are contrary to what we actually believe and feel about ourselves and life, we begin to grow emotionally. It’s all about what we feed our mind.
While initially positive quotes and sayings and idioms can grate on your nerves, eventually your mind will begin to absorb and believe what we are telling it. Just as if your mind is fed with negative self-talk or abusive speech by others, we eventually begin to believe it. As a result, we need to challenge that talk and those beliefs which will empower us, not to just believe some inspirational quote, but to slowly work on our happiness and ability to believe in ourself. Happiness is about what we feed our minds.
So don’t give up on yourself or your circumstances. If hearing or seeing a positive quote it too much at the moment, walk away from it. Be gentle with yourself. Remember, it’s okay to not be okay, but don’t get stuck in depression and false beliefs. However, if the quote has some value to your life, come back to the quote as many times as it takes. Try to mediatate on it. Be courageous and brave. You don’t have control over everything that happens in the outside world, but you can control what happens inside of you: how you choose to think, feel and react to those obstacles.