Toxic positivity is the idea that you should maintain a positive mindset no matter how bad or difficult the situation is. It is a “good vibes only” attitude towards life. While it is good to be an optimist and think positively, toxic positivity rejects difficult emotions in favor of a cheerful, often falsely positive facade. Having a positive attitude towards life is good for your mental health. The problem is that your life is not always positive.
Everyone deals with painful experiences and emotions. And while these emotions are often unpleasant and difficult to deal with, they are important and should be felt and dealt with honestly and openly. Toxic positivity takes positive thinking to an oversimplified extreme. This attitude emphasizes the importance of optimism and reduces and denies any trace of human emotions that are not entirely positive or happy.
What Are The Forms of Toxic Positivity?
Toxic positivity has various forms. Some examples you may have encountered in your life are:
- If something bad happens, such as losing your job, you will be asked to look on the bright side or stay positive. While comments like these are often sympathetic, they can also be a way of shutting down everything you want to say about what you are feeling.
- After facing some loss, people will tell you that everything happens for a reason. While such statements are often comforting, it is also a way to avoid someone’s pain.
- If you express sadness or disappointment, someone will tell you that happiness is a choice. This shows that if you are experiencing negative emotions, it is your own fault and choice not to be happy.
These statements are often well-intentioned but harmful. Such statements at their best come off as trite platitudes that let you off the hook so that you do not have to deal with someone else’s emotions. These statements, at their worst, result in blaming and shaming people who often face difficult situations. Toxic positivity deprives people of the authentic support they need to deal with what they are facing.
What Are the Signs of toxic positivity?
- Hiding How You Truly Feel
Everyone is guilty of hiding their feelings, but problems can arise when this becomes a constant thing. Whether it is in a relationship with your loved ones, partner, or even yourself, hiding how you truly feel is usually a protective instinct. For instance, if someone you love does something that annoys you, you may choose to hide your annoyance to protect them and your relationship.
Learning to embrace all kinds of feelings, good and bad, can be difficult for you. But if you release them in a healthy way to the people you trust, it will help you move forward and find those happy moments again.
- Ignoring All Negative Emotions
The study shows that when you avoid your emotions, they get stronger over time, taking a heavy toll on your mind and body. This can manifest itself in the form of overworking yourself, drug or alcohol addiction, personal challenges, or a bad relationship with food.
The best way is to find a healthy coping mechanism that allows you to work through those emotions and reasons. This can be anything such as meditation, exercise, visiting a medical professional, or talking to someone you trust.
- Feeling Guilty About Being Angry or Sad
It is hard not to feel guilty about being angry, sad, depressed, or any other form of negative emotion when you see someone in a worse position than you. It happens to everyone sometimes, but if you feel guilty about feeling these emotions, the signs point to toxic positivity.
Everyone has their own challenges and feels a variety of emotions. Whatever you feel, and whenever you feel, it is valid and is another obstacle to overcome in your life. You must not feel guilty when these negative emotions arise to work through them and overcome them fully.
- Not Daring To Be Seen Unhappy
You may not want to be seen unhappy for many reasons. This can be so that you do not burden others with your negative emotions, protect your relationships, and yourself from vulnerability. It can also be to maintain the ideal image of life. The sooner you accept that no life is perfect, the faster you will release the burden of reaching unattainable standards in your life.
- Stories About Your Life are Always “Sunshine & Rainbows.”
It may be much easier to share wonderful and happy stories with friends and loved ones, but when that is all you have pointed out, you might be experiencing toxic positivity. Sharing stories about the negative emotions of those you trust is a great way to deal with and overcome these issues. Plus, it is the most relatable way and encourages your friends and others around you to be vulnerable and open to their most difficult moments.
- Having A ‘Just Get on With It’ Mindset
People with toxic positivity usually have a hard time stopping and noticing how they feel and instead keep going. That way, there is a risk of developing unhealthy habits (which are, in-depth, a coping mechanism) such as work addiction, alcohol, or other detrimental actions.
Resilience is an incredibly invaluable skill but requires people to fully recover from their emotions or problems and not just suppress them for another time. Not only will this explode, but it also creates a habit of suppressing emotions whenever they are not right.
Most people would agree that being positive is better than negative, but there is no such thing as being 100% positive. Too much positivity can potentially harm you in the form of toxic positivity. So, the next time you feel negative emotions start appearing, look at how you react and remember that working through something is always better than putting it aside.
Toxic positivity is often imperceptible, and you all have engaged in this thinking at one time or another. However, as you learn to recognize it, you will be better able to get rid of this type of thinking and provide (and receive) more realistic support when going through something that is not easy. Begin noticing toxic statements and try to allow yourself and others to feel your emotions – positive and negative.