Why Won't Positive Thinking Work?

4 Reasons Positive Thinking Won’t Work

Why Won’t Positive Thinking Work?


The problem with positive thinking is that it doesn’t work for everyone. Don’t feel bad if your daily affirmations aren’t helping you to stop the negative inner thoughts. It could take more work than that! 

While there isn’t anything wrong with looking on the bright side of life, sometimes toxic positivity can deny, minimise, or even invalidate your emotions which could cause feelings of guilt and shame.

Have you ever heard the expression “everything happens for a reason” straight after something traumatic? It definitely doesn’t make the hurt feel any better, and it’s not something you want to hear in that moment. Sometimes you need the validation of your feelings.

It’s okay to be sad about something that is difficult or emotional. Something that makes us human is our ability to feel, and these feelings can be negative as well as positive.

Unconditional positivity can be detrimental to our mental health as it puts expectations on us that we are sometimes unable to achieve.

We are imperfect by nature and our insecurities and worries will not simply disappear with positive thinking. Being positive isn’t always a thought, sometimes it’s a release of the need to judge. 

While positive thinking might help us to get through a difficult day, there are some circumstances when positive thinking doesn’t work.


When Won’t Positive Thinking Work?

1. When you Ignore Reality

Climbing a Mountain

We can’t just set ourselves goals without any plan to achieve them. Simply saying “I will…” without any action might cause feelings of failure when we don’t reach them.

Create a plan to reach the goal, each step will feel like a win and sometimes that’s the only positivity you need to keep you going.

Sometimes, things won’t go our way and that’s okay. Focus on solutions and actions that can better your outcome and try not to rely on positive thinking alone. Don’t ignore reality, recognise that our goals take work.

2. When you Hide your Feelings

holding hands

It’s important to face your feelings and work through insecurities to reach a more positive mindset. Counselling or Therapy can help to discover the root cause of a problem. 

Positive thinking is a mindset, not a magic trick. It won’t just come to you without the work.

Focus on inner-healing and unlearning negative self-talk. Find the beliefs you need to let go of and try not to hide your feelings with false positivity. 

3. You are Waiting for a Future that Doesn’t Exist

big dreams

Everyone has their ups and downs so a life of only positivity is going to be unachievable.

If you wait for perfection before you start enjoying life, you will forever be dreaming and you will miss the opportunities for happiness that you have currently.

It’s important to have aspirations and it’s exciting to think about the big dreams, but make sure you are also living in the moment and recognising the beauty around you.

Start focusing on the things you are grateful for as well as the things you haven’t got yet. 


4. Your Affirmations are Surface Level

loving self in mirror

Self-affirmations don’t have to be grandiose, they can look like this:

“I am good at my job because I work hard and do my best”

or this, “I will pass this exam because I studied hard”

or even this, “I love my body because it is my home”. 

This kind of affirmation encourages natural positive thinking and aims to practice self-love.

If your brain doesn’t truly believe it then you might bring up negative feelings which lead to self-hatred. Start loving yourself for who you are currently. 


Positive thinking doesn’t work for everyone, and some of us find it harder to feel optimistic about life that others. It’s important to seek help if you feel unable to shift negative thoughts alone. Speak to your GP or contact us here to find out more about counselling and therapy.



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