The Positive Pensive

An anxious pessimist tries to find the positive
Mindfulness Wellbeing

6 ‘inspirational’ quotes that are so unhelpful it’s almost funny

Sometimes we all need a pick-me-up – just a little reminder that we’re doing perfectly fine.

Nevertheless, all too often I see quotes, messages and slogans online that have the potential to be damaging. They also have a tendency to be wrongly attributed to celebrities or icons with influence, somehow justifying that ‘It’s okay, because Marilyn Monroe said it!’.

Did she though? I remain a sceptic.

And for all the love I have for Pinterest, this is one of my least favourite parts of it. It’s an absolute hotbed for pictures of ‘thinspiration’ that do not in any way promote real health, while posts peddling self-harm and suicidal tendencies as some kind of badge of honour attract thousands of repins.

So here’s your disclaimer: this blog might come across as a touch on the shirty side (i.e. abundant swearing). Some of these quotes are by no means the worst I’ve seen online, but plenty of them completely miss the point.

Kicking off with this little gem.

Okay, no. Where to start with this one?

What we’re being told here is that we have to do something literally self-destructive (in the context of this poor metaphor) in order to better serve others. The implication is that if you don’t do this, you might not be a good person.

Well, bro, I’m not a fucking candle. I’m pretty sure people would rather me not completely exert myself for their own gains (unless they’re terrible friends). Bullshit.


In the grand scheme of things, this one isn’t that bad. I mean, it isn’t wrong; it’s just a bit patronising.

Like, we know these things. Most of us realise our anxiety is generally irrational. We all know we can’t change the past. The reason why this is a problem in the first place is because even though we know these things, we can’t help it.

It’s the level of simplicity that equates to telling someone with depression to just ‘Be positive’ and ‘see the good in life’. THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHT, OH WISE QUOTE. I AM CURED.


Okay, in many ways I get where this is coming from. Things might seem bad, but you’ll probably come out better for it.

Even so, many of us experience a tremendous amount of stress – finances, work, relationships and so on – and aren’t even aware of what level is unhealthy. A certain amount of pressure can be a great motivator and give us purpose – but I don’t really love the idea of normalising the enormous, crushing level it takes for the Earth to produce a diamond. Maybe just a deadline, you know?


You know, one of the best ways to make me angry instead of inspired is starting by telling me I’m stupid.

That aside, the comparison doesn’t even work. Live in the UK? PLENTY of us walk around with a umbrella in case it rains. It’s called being prepared, you twat.

And I think that’s a lot of what worrying is about – mentally preparing yourself for different scenarios and situations. Of course, like the previous example, only a small amount is really needed for that – and many of us go over and above.

There’s a pattern forming here. Moderation’s the key, guys.


No no no no no no no.

When I saw this one, I was about ready to give up (can you tell I might not have been feeling so positively pensive that day? Happens to the best of us).

Storms (aka ‘bad things’) don’t just happen to bad people. Why do I need to be ‘washed clean’? Why is this quote trying to tell me I’m ‘dirty’? Do I need to experience a shitload of terrible things before I’m considered ‘clean’? What is this even trying to communicate?!

Get out.


Oh good, hadn’t realised that of all the 52,439,087 possible outcomes I dreamt up for that scenario, only one could happen. I feel so enlightened now.


…Actually, this one’s pretty good.

I’m all about trying to lessen the load and reduce future anxieties as much as possible. Whether it’s just tidying up a bit, or booking yourself a rad holiday, this is pretty sound advice.

Well, I couldn’t very well unleash unnecessary fury on everything, right?

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