It shouldn’t be a big secret to most people that I’m a big fan of positivity.
Because of this, you’re probably thinking that I’m completely opposed to negativity like the insanity of chronic complaining, blaming everyone else for our problems, and constantly making excuses for why we can’t find joy in our lives.
If so, you’d be right.
Even though that’s true, my concern these days isn’t with negativity.
I’m sure that there are literally millions of blog posts on the internet about how to deal with negativity. I’ve even written a few of them.
But for this blog post, I want to deal with an enemy of positivity that’s a much bigger threat than negativity.
What’s worse about this threat is that it’s not nearly as obvious as negativity, but it’s equally as dangerous, if not more so.
It’s called fake positivity.
I bet you’ve never heard of fake positivity before, have you?
If not, allow me to introduce it you.
And more importantly, allow me to encourage you to avoid engaging in this silliness under any circumstances.
The Dangers of Fake Positivity
Before I get into the details of what fake positivity is, let me explain why it’s such a threat to real positivity.
Fake positivity is the reason why many people believe that real positivity is a joke.
Fake positivity is the reason why when many people hear the word “positivity” they either cringe, laugh, or shake their heads in quiet disgust.
Fake positivity is the reason why real positivity is so completely misunderstood by most of the world.
I want to use this blog post to set the record straight.
In order to do so, I’m going to hit the two biggest forms of fake positivity head-on:
1) Illusion and 2) Delusion.
Without further ado, let’s start with the more annoying, but less dangerous, one first.
Fake Positivity: Illusion
This is a form of fake positivity that I’m sure you know very well.
It’s the person who shares inspirational quotes with regularity on her Facebook page, but spends most of her time gossiping and backstabbing everyone in sight.
It’s the person who proudly touts his religion and his near-perfect attendance at church, but when he’s at the office, he’s the biggest soul-destroying bully you’ve ever seen.
It’s the person who attends every motivational seminar, reads every self-improvement book under the sun, and has hired the best life coaches money can buy, but she never applies any of that knowledge into her own life.
It’s the person who loves to give unsolicited advice about how you can be a better person, but he’s secretly hooked on drugs, having an affair with his administrative assistant, and gambling his kid’s college fund on Sunday’s big NFL game each week.
This is fake positivity.
It’s the person who focuses on putting out the illusion that he/she is positive, but in reality he/she is not even close.
Sadly, I know quite a few people like this. They are very easy for me to spot these days.
Because I used to be the President and CEO of the Fake Positivity club.
Years ago, I worked hard (seriously, really hard) to keep up the illusion that I was a positive dude, but inside, I was secretly an arrogant, selfish, gossipy, fraudulent punk of a human being.
Actually, forget the “secretly” part, because anyone with a working brain was able to figure out what I was all about back then.
It took some pretty painful things to happen in my life to wake me up, and I’ll forever be grateful for them.
Thankfully, now I get it.
I know now that real positivity has very little to do with the blog posts we write, whether we’re religious or not, the quotes we share on our Facebook pages, the seminars we attend, or how nice and kind we say that we are.
Simply put, real positivity will never be about our beliefs and words.
Real positivity has everything to do with our actions and behavior.
I used to work with a woman who went around the office quoting Bible scriptures and telling everyone how “favored she was by the Lord” (her words, not mine), and in her next breath, she would verbally destroy her employees in the most mean-spirited manner imaginable. (Side note: Obviously, this is an isolated example. Please know that I’m not saying that all deeply religious people act anything like this woman.)
I also used to work with a guy who said that he was raised by his parents to believe that “everyone on this earth is worthy of my dignity and respect.” And for the 4 years that I worked with him, I never saw him treat anyone (seriously, I mean anyone) with anything less than dignity and respect.
Which of the two people above would you say is displaying real positivity?
Fake positivity is a lot of cheap talk and putting on a smoke & mirrors illusion show for the world to see.
Real positivity is aligning your positive beliefs and words with positive actions and behavior.
In other words, to be truly positive we can’t just talk about it, we have to be about it too.
Unfortunately, the phonies and hypocrites of the world are only half of the “fake positivity” problem.
Let’s get to the more dangerous half of the issue.
Fake Positivity: Delusion
It is very true that we can have too much of a good thing.
And yes, this definitely includes positivity.
There are people who take positivity to a dangerous extreme, and when it reaches that point, it’s no longer anything close to being positive at all.
It becomes delusion, and this is the second form of fake positivity that needs to be dealt with.
There are people out there who strangely believe that being positive means that they must refuse to acknowledge all of the “less-than-positive” situations in their lives.
A particularly scary example of this was in an email that I received from a woman last year.
I’m paraphrasing, but she basically told me that she recently lost her job and even though the bills are starting to pile up, she is committed to “ignoring her financial troubles and avoiding every bill collector’s phone calls because she is only willing to focus on the beauty and positivity of the world from now on.”
This is not positivity. Actually, I don’t even know how to describe this.
Sadly, I’ve seen this foolishness masquerading as positivity way too often.
There is a huge (I’m talking Grand Canyon huge) difference between transcending our problems and pretending that they don’t exist.
One option is the same as sticking our fingers in our ears and yelling, “La! La! La! I don’t hear you! I’m going to keep it positive! La, la, laaaaaa!” when our physician is telling us that we were just diagnosed with cancer.
The other option is hearing the life-changing cancer diagnosis from the physician, acknowledging the seriousness of the situation, and then somehow summoning the inner strength to fight harder than we ever have before.
I’m sure that it’s pretty obvious which one is real positivity and which one isn’t (at least, I hope that it’s obvious.)
There is nothing positive about ignoring our problems and deluding ourselves into believing that they don’t exist, especially in the name of “positivity.”
Actually, I’m not sure if there’s anything more damaging to our overall mental and emotional health than engaging in this type of fake positivity on a consistent basis.
The Reality of Positivity
Believe me, I understand why positivity gets such a bad rap.
A couple of months ago, I attended a professional conference and I noticed one of the attendees roll her eyes at me when I told her that I write for a blog called, “The Positivity Solution.”
“Oh, is that one of those blogs where you tell people to smile and yell ‘Life is awesome!’ after your house gets foreclosed on and you find out that your child has leukemia?”
Yep, this is what I’m up against.
I get a similar reaction when I tell people that I believe strongly in the Law of Attraction too.
“Uh, do you really believe that you just have to say, ‘I want a car! I want a car!’ and then you’ll have a brand-new shiny car in your driveway tomorrow morning?”
No, I don’t believe that because: A) that would be stupid, and B) it’s not even close to what the Law of Attraction is all about.
It’s the same deal with positivity too, unfortunately.
Many people are turned off by positivity because when they think of positivity, they’re not even thinking about real positivity.
They think of the fraudulent asshat who tells the world that she’s a positive person because of her beliefs, while she goes around treating people like crap on a daily basis.
They think of the deluded knucklehead who believes that true positivity is all about keeping a smile on his face and thinking “happy thoughts,” while ignoring all of his problems and taking no action to fix them.
Truthfully if that’s what positivity was all about, I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with it either.
Good thing that’s not the case.
Real positivity is all about one thing: Transcending negativity by taking consistent positive action.
This means rejecting the urge to mindlessly bitch and complain, and instead, choosing to be the hero in our own life story.
This means choosing to face our problems head on, instead of running from them.
This means not just talking about treating people with kindness and respect, it means consistently doing it too.
This means loving ourselves enough to ruthlessly remove the toxic people from our lives.
This means looking at the shit that life sometimes serves to us and saying, “this sucks right now, but I will find a way to make it better.”
Most of all, real positivity isn’t for the big talkers, and in some cases, it’s not just for the big dreamers either.
Real positivity is for the doers, because it’s the doers who will be the ones who change the world.
That’s why I had to set the record straight about positivity in this blog post.
If you know someone who engages in fake positivity, can you do me a favor?
Can you tell them to knock it off, direct them to this blog post, or both?
These clowns are making it harder for the rest of us, and believe me, the last thing that we need to do is turn off anyone from becoming more positive.
The world needs positivity more than ever.
Specifically, the real kind.
Have you ever dealt with someone who engages in “fake positivity?” If so, how do you deal with them? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!