Optimism provides a multitude of benefits across many facets of life. Researchers have linked looking on the bright side to everything from improved pain tolerance to increased longevity. There’s no denying the incredible power that an optimistic outlook can have on your health, relationships, and performance.
But much like everything in life, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Looking at everything in the world – including the business world – through rose-colored glasses can have negative consequences. Here are five ways when an overly optimistic outlook does more harm than good:
1. The Above Average Effect
The majority of us tend to think we’re above average in a lot of ways. Countless research studies show our tendency to think we’re smarter, more popular, healthier, and even better drivers than those around us. Despite the fact that it’s statistically impossible for 80% of us to be above average, the vast majority of people insist they belong in the top percentile of many activities.
While self-confidence is enormously important in many aspects of business, exaggerating your skills isn’t helpful. Thinking, “I’m a great presenter,” or “My leadership skills are superior,” may actually serve as a disadvantage if your overly inflated sense of self isn’t realistic.
2. The “This Will Be Easy,” Mindset
An overly optimistic outlook can cross over into arrogance if you’re not careful. Making assumptions such as, “I could quit smoking cold turkey tomorrow if I wanted to,” or “I don’t need to prepare for that presentation because I already know the material,” can have disastrous consequences.
Underestimating challenges can leave you unprepared and ill equipped. Believing everything in life comes easy can actually damage your self-worth. After all, if challenges are easy, shouldn’t you always succeed the first time? Denying that success requires hard work and sharp skills sells yourself short.
3. Confusing Positive Thinking and Magical Thinking
Sometimes people muddle the line between positive thinking and magical thinking. The notion that your thoughts have the power to change the course of the entire universe isn’t exactly backed by science. Yet, many people believe that if they wish hard enough they’ll win the lottery because their thoughts will increase their chances of hitting it big.
Assuming your thoughts alone have the power to make things happen can actually hold you back from reaching your greatest potential. After all, why get a job if you know you’re going to win the lottery any day now? Positive thinking only yields positive results when it’s combined with positive behavior.
4. Assuming Things Will Always Go According to Plan
While hoping for the best is one thing, denial that anything could go wrong is another. Convincing yourself that things will always go smoothly isn’t a good plan. Yet, how often do you hear people say things like, “I’m sure everything will go just fine,” as they move ahead without entertaining a backup plan?
If a leader says, “We’re doubling the amount of clients we’re taking on over the next year and it’s sure to generate revenue,” without considering the potential problems with that plan, the company will be unprepared for realities they’ll likely face. Unrealistic optimism can cause you to ignore warning signs of trouble and to deny the potential negative consequences you’re facing.
5. Idealizing the Truth
While it’s nice to want to see the good in everyone and every opportunity, optimism should never become borderline delusional. Yet, sometimes people think in order to be optimistic, they must minimize – or even deny– anything negative, even when it’s the truth. The reality is, there are unhealthy companies and bad people in the world who will take advantage of you if you don’t recognize the warning signs.
A willingness to overlook the fact someone repeatedly lies could cause you to trust an untrustworthy person. Or shrugging off a few unethical issues raised during a meeting about a new business venture may cause you to enter into a bad situation. Healthy optimism should stop short of clouding your judgement.
Develop Balanced Thinking
Our inner dialogue impacts the way we feel and the way we behave each day. And just like dwelling on the negative isn’t healthy, focusing too much on the positive can also be detrimental if you’re not careful. Learning how to identify and replace unproductive thoughts with healthier ways of thinking is a skill that everyone can learn.
Train your brain to be a constructive optimist. You’ll become most effective when you have balanced thoughts that recognize the silver lining, yet acknowledge the reality of the situation.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.