Happiness is everyone’s right. Part of developing happiness is to learn how to have a more positive outlook – one that is hopeful and optimistic in its assessment of both the present and the future.
Obtaining that positive outlook is an important first step in controlling depression and anxiety. But what happens if optimism becomes naivety, or pushes someone to act as though they are in some fantasy world?
Balance the Positive with the Realistic
Even though positivity is very important, realism is too. It’s important to be honest with yourself and how you feel, and not to mask negative feelings with a forced positive emotion – especially if those emotions are important for your mental health, or represent a truly objective view on the situation.
However, one can still be realistic and positive, and this is the balance we try to achieve in therapy. Let’s look at examples:
- You are in need of financial help. The optimistic side of you says to yourself “everything will get better and tomorrow I’ll be free of financial issues!” the realistic side of you says “I have no way of getting money tomorrow.” The positive realistic side of you says “I may not have a way to get out of financial freedom tomorrow, but I’m going to start working on it right away, and I know I’ll get out of it.
- You are having a bad day with your depression. The optimistic side of you says “I’ll be better tomorrow.” The realistic side of you says “I usually have depression for weeks at a time.” The positive realistic side of you says “my depression tends to last, but I’ll be able to get through it as I usually do.”
There are also much smaller and much bigger examples of this that you’ll encounter in your life. But with all of them, positivity is important, but so is realism.
Creating a Positive and Realistic Mindset
It still helps to be able to realistically assess where you are and what you can realistically achieve in your situation. But optimism and positivity are also important. It is not one or the other that will have the strongest benefit when it comes to your mental wellness. It is the combination of both that will be your greatest strength.
If you’ve struggled with negative, anxiety, depression, or a hurt quality of life, please contact Long Island psychologist Dr. Marc Shulman, today.