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Is Positive Thinking Sabotaging Your Career?

Is Positive Thinking Sabotaging Your Career?

We’ve been inculcated to think happy thoughts and be positive.

And I think this is mostly a good thing. I ascribe to the belief that while you can’t always choose what happens to you, you can choose your experience of what happens. I don’t do gratitude lists, but I do believe in noticing the small, exquisite moments that happen every day.

So what’s the problem then?

The problem is this: you can get so used to sustaining yourself on the little stuff that you ignore the big stuff.

Yes, you can “gratitude” yourself into staying in a bad situation because you’re so committed to the moments of lightness. 

Let me give you an example. I once had a girlfriend who was in a relationship with an abusive boyfriend. We asked what good she was getting out of the relationship, her response was, “He always offers me a Kleenex after he makes me cry.”

Well, why not ditch the guys that’s making you cry all the time?!? She was clinging to little crumbs like Kleenex offerings and missing the big picture and the changes she needed to make to live a happy, healthy life.

Think she sounds like a dodo? We do it all the time. And we do it a lot with our work.

If the best part of your day is that you hit all the green lights on the way home from work, or your daily latte, or the walk around the block you take during lunch…heads up. Some a**hole is handing you Kleenex and hoping that’s enough to keep you around.

Is it? Are you getting the total package, or are you living on dregs?

Your turn. In the comments, let me know…

Ever lived on the dregs? What made you say, “Enough!”?

  1. linda@lindasitaliantable.com

    April 11th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Definitely ditch the dregs! When I first started I kind of did everything expected to get the business going. One “arm” of the biz was one I dreaded and was draining my time. Every time I did work in this area, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. So – I ditched it – and replaced it with another “arm” which I am excited about. This made a positive difference in my attitude about everything else I did! The dregs have to go!

  2. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    April 11th, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I so hear you about dropping the draining stuff. Especially if you’re working for yourself, there’s no reason to put time and energy into stuff you aren’t energized about. Thanks, Linda!

  3. beautyanna08@mail.ru

    April 11th, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Great reminder for all areas of of our lives, Laura!Well, I think this is a question of facing the truth, and seeing this moment of enlightment as something positive, because now you can act from that space towards something better for yourself. There is a difference between “being positive” and “sugarcoating”! Thinking positive means keeping it real with yourself and not hiding form the truth and avoiding to change the situation for the better!
    Thanks for this blog, Laura!

  4. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    April 11th, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Good distinction, Anna. Thanks!

  5. anjgladish@gmail.com

    April 11th, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I saw this when I was recently injured and out of work for two months- I was unable to stop being a Pollyanna about what I was capable of doing, and a client came up with a bad case of bruised expectations.Again, doing taxes this week I’m a little aghast at my expectation that “It’ll turn out fine.” There are times when that positive attitude seems more than a little immature.

  6. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    April 11th, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Andy, yes. What we couch as “being positive” and “looking on the bright side” is sometimes just plain ole denial. It’s learning the tell the difference that sets us (and they people we work with) up to do better. And I’ve had that experience, too, of not knowing where the line is until I’ve crossed it.

  7. darice@pauseli.us

    April 11th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I’m slowly drawing a correlation here. I’ve never had ‘as much’ as the other kids in class / work / life, but I’ve always been extremely grateful for what I do have. So grateful in fact, that I do not ask for more.
    I do not ask for more.

    Whoa! A typo made me realize that more without the or is me!
    More or Me.
    More or Me?
    More or Me!

    If I ask for more will I loose ‘me’, will I loose myself? Nope.
    But I bet if I don’t ask for more, I will.

    (I shared more on my blog: http://pauseli.us/?p=7683) Thank you, Laura. As always, you’re right on time! 🙂

  8. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    April 11th, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Loved your response. Such good conversation, here! Thanks, Darice.

  9. kwilliams@thesupporthive.com

    April 11th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I was just discussing this with a colleague last week! Bein an optimist, I can make ANYTHING look good. I did this for way too long with a bad job and a bad marriage. Learning how to be grateful and see the good, but still knowing when to move on is a skill I’m working on. Thanks, Laura!

  10. sage@sagegrayson.com

    April 15th, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I’m a huge believer in positive thinking, gratitude lists, and all that law of attraction stuff. But I love the point you’re making about being grateful for the truly wonderful things in life (big and small) and not the little “I guess this is OK” scraps of life.
    Fixing the underlying problem, such as ending a bad relationship or changing jobs, has always been more beneficial to me than searching desperately for something positive in a bad situation. Great post! 🙂

  11. Anonymous

    June 10th, 2013 at 12:36 am

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  12. Anonymous

    August 23rd, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    […] Create As Folk – Laura Simms wrote a great post about the downside of positive thinking. I thought this post linked so nicely with the whole idea behind No Vinyl Mind that I wrote about here. I just got introduced to her website and have already added it to my blog feed. Wonderful information and advice there. […]

  13. jayneanneammar@yahoo.com

    January 17th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Omigosh, thank you so much for saying this. I have been so incredibly unhappy at a new job as a receptionist that I just started that I went to see a career counselor last night to finally try to have someone help me out of this spot I’ve been in for ages (in my previous job as well). She made me come up with something that would make my days better right away, even though it felt really forced I said, “listen to music” at work, which I do anyway, and is clearly not cutting it. At the end of the session, she suggested a “gratitude journal” which I have done for years of my life, but am not currently doing now. It felt like trying to use a butter knife to cut off the handcuffs around my wrists.

  14. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    January 19th, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    While I do think it’s best to make the most of where you are as long as you’re there, I also know that only goes so far. Perhaps you can start planning your escape! My clients always enjoy that.
    And PS – I’m not hip to the gratitude journal. Here’s what I do instead: http://yourcareerhomecoming.com/the-crash-burn-antidote-and-why-i-dont-do-gratitude-lists/

  15. Anonymous

    September 27th, 2014 at 11:04 am

    […] Is Positive Thinking Sabotaging Your Career? – Create as Folk. I worry about this a lot. Being away from home takes a huge toll on my relationship with my husband and keeps me from fully living the life that I want to lead. Is it worth it? Am I hanging on to the positives when really I should be letting go of all the junk? […]

  16. timmybryant@hotmail.com

    October 2nd, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for this Laura. Just “stumbled” upon it on the site. This is Tim from the call the other night. This hits home so much because I work at a yoga and meditation retreat site on 400 beautiful acres! But, actually I sit in front of a computer doing spreadsheets and accounting and trying to get maintenance guys to fix stuff and I’m not interested in doing any of these things despite my love for this place and spirituality. I tell myself that I love this place and I am being of “service” but it’s getting kind of ridiculous. 🙂

  17. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    October 2nd, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Tim! I can see how this would especially be a trap if you work in a place that is about mindfulness and spirituality. One Homecomer said something that I *love*: “I like being of service, but I don’t want to be a servant.”

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