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Why You Shouldn’t Aim at Being an Optimistic Person

Why You Shouldn’t Aim at Being an Optimistic Person

There is no disputing that it is important to be positive. But what most people won’t tell you about is the importance of negative emotions.

I knew a guy who was potentially the most optimistic person anyone could meet. His resilience was like no other. I shall always recall the time when someone we knew had suffered a miscarriage. He said cheerily to her, “That’s not really bad news because it means you can still get pregnant again!”

It seemed as though he was incapable of feeling anything negative. Nothing would upset him–not even tragedies where people died. Then one day, something happened–one small event triggered something within him. Suddenly, all of those years of emotions that he suppressed surfaced all at once. It resulted in him having to take several months off work as he fell into a deep depression.

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Resilience is part of being optimistic, but it doesn’t mean that they are both the same thing. And although trying to be optimistic is good, there are times when it could have an adverse effect.

Studies: one of the biggest contributors to psychological issues is emotional avoidance

It is human instinct to want to abstain from things that make us feel hurt. But repressing emotions such as sorrow leads to long-term issues such as depression or anxiety. For instance, if a loved one passed away, you should not give yourself a time limit to rush through the stages of grief.  [1]

Many studies have proven that one of biggest contributors to psychological issues is emotional avoidance.

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One such study [2] was conducted by Florida State University. Stress responses were measured by the heart rates of people who were alcohol dependent and exposed to alcohol-related cues. Those who restrained their thinking had much higher stress responses to the cues than those who did not suppress their thoughts.

Accepting and addressing bad emotions encourage a different kind of resilience. Some of these feelings have been instrumental in human survival since the dawn of time–whether it was fear (therefore the need to have better protection from danger) or the recognition that something didn’t feel good which motivated change.

How much optimism do we need? [3]

Too much or too little optimism is not healthy

There are good points to having an optimistic outlook as it helps you to identify opportunities and hope within challenging moments.

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At the same time, having no optimism at all would mean that you may be unable to see a way out of problems.

There is also an unrealistic optimism where you may be in a state of denial about negative situations. For instance, someone with a gambling problem may simply keep gambling and tell themselves that they will win eventually (despite losing large sums of money).

Acknowledge some negative emotions are necessary

There are times when negative emotions are important. If a lion ran out in front of you, your fear is what would cause your survival instinct to kick in.

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Remember you can adjust anytime

Not everything is within our control. Sometimes, you need to accept that and move forward in the best way possible–even if it is an option you do not like. You may have bought tickets to the theatre but there is a train strike. It could mean getting a taxi, and it’s ok to not feel happy about having to spend that extra money.

People who get caught in undercurrents while swimming often tend to panic and try to fight against the current, which only causes fatigue and drowning. Doing the opposite and going with the current will mean they can eventually swim back to the shore as the current will eventually weaken. Fighting against emotions that need to surface is the same.

It is ok to not feel happy or positive all the time. If you feel sad or have the need to cry–embrace it. Tears can sometimes be your body’s way of giving you a hug.

Reference

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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