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False optimism: what is it and what are its negative effects?

False optimism: what is it and what are its negative effects?

May 1, 2024

No one can doubt that optimism is an attitude that can take us very far in life and can help us to be happy . Optimism is a virtue, as long as the optimistic person has a high confidence in himself and is realistic about the environment that surrounds him.

Otherwise, we would be talking false optimism . And as said Abraham Maslow, one of the greatest exponents of the current humanist, "false optimism sooner or later, means disappointment, anger and despair."

In this article we will talk about false optimism and we will delve into this concept and its characteristics.

What is false optimism?

When we adopt a positive and optimistic mentality, the world seems to turn in the direction we want. But for optimism to be authentic it must be in tune with our self-esteem, because with low self-esteem, optimism simply masks our weakness.


Feeling good about yourself is fundamental for us and for relating to the environment that surrounds us. A high self-esteem makes us much more positive people, aware of our strengths and weaknesses and, after accepting ourselves as we are, we can look forward without fear. High self-esteem allows us to adapt to the environment around us with a smile, even though not everything goes well. The authentic optimist learns from mistakes, because his worldview allows him to accept defeats and understand that we are not perfect.

However, optimism has become fashionable and some people want to pretend that they are optimistic when their inner world is cracked. They do not have a good connection with themselves, but they cover themselves with the breastplate of optimism. False optimism fuels not wanting to face reality to escape from the problems , and it becomes a double-edged sword that sooner or later ends up damaging. In short, it hides a denial of pain and suffering.


Characteristics of the false optimist

People with false optimism depend too much on external approval and use optimism to avoid having to reflect or face their fears. But, What characterizes this type of individuals? People with false optimism present the following traits and attitudes:

1. They are not realistic

These types of individuals are not realistic and use optimism to escape frustration and having to face an unpleasant reality. To grow as human beings we must face our fears and be tolerant of frustration, otherwise, we do not benefit from the life experiences that make us suffer, which in the long run are what allow us to develop a strong and prepared personality for the situations that we like least.

Living happily 24 hours a day is impossible , so we must accept it. In addition, false optimists do not usually achieve the goals that are proposed, because they are not realistic and false optimism ends up frustrating them.


2. They are not honest with themselves

This type of individuals are not honest with themselves, and that is why this phenomenon is called false optimism. This self-deception is often frequent when someone does not want to accept the reality that surrounds them , is an attempt to reduce the anxiety and discomfort you feel.

  • This is called cognitive dissonance. We explain it to you in our article: "Cognitive dissonance: the theory that explains self-deception"

3. They are valued negatively

As I mentioned in previous lines, this type of people are not valued positively, that is, they have low self-esteem . In this context, false optimism acts as a form of protection, because the person does not have enough mental strength to resolve both internal and external conflicts.

4. They do not live in the present

There are many researches that have shown that people who practice Mindfulness enjoy greater well-being. This happens because they live in the present moment and have a nonjudgmental attitude. People with false optimism live with irrational expectations, far from a "mindful" mentality .

  • You can know more about the benefits of living the present in our article: "How to live in the present moment, in 7 psychological keys"

5. Do not self-motivate

False optimism may seem like a good motivational tool, but it is not because expectations and goals are irrational. Applying false optimism to achieve the objectives can bring negative consequences. Therefore, it is always important that the goals we set are achievable, realistic, clear and measurable, as we explained in our article: "The importance of setting goals in Sports Psychology".

6. They have not found inner peace

When a person has not found inner peace, it is easy for him to be influenced by the outside world and for his happiness to depend on this. They are people who compare themselves with others and who are constantly worried about what others think of them . False optimism is characteristic of those subjects who are not really aware of their emotions, virtues and limitations. People who do not accept themselves as they are.

The trap of false optimism

Believe that one is optimistic when it is not, it is a serious error, because this makes people not to enter their inner world and this "prevents them from connecting with their inner world", as affirmed by the psychologist Juan Cruz in a interview with the newspaper El Mundo. Optimism is a trap that does not allow self-reflection, which has many benefits for personal development as we discussed in our article: "Personal Development: 5 Reasons for Self-Reflection".

The trap of false optimism is just as bad as pessimism , because it prevents people from learning from their experiences, something that is undoubtedly key to grow and develop.


Optimistic Nihilism (May 2024).


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