What is Toxic Positivity?
One lesson we’ve always been taught is that “too much of anything is bad”. But, what if that “thing” is positivity? Of course, positivity plays an undeniable role in building our confidence and helping us work through our problems, but, positivity can be toxic too.
Toxic Positivity, put simply, is the overgeneralization of the state of happiness and optimism which eventually leads to denial and invalidation of our authentic human emotions. A “good vibes only” outlook to life can prove to be harmful, because the truth is, life isn’t always hunky-dory. There are good days, and there are tough ones. When a tough day comes around, it is important for us to deal with our negative emotions in a healthy manner. After all, failure isn’t a destination, it’s part of the journey.
How is it harmful?
There are thousands and thousands of #goodvibes posts on all social media platforms, but when one shares a post related to mental health, or a problem they’re facing, it is met with absolute blanket optimism. The person then feels as though their emotions are simply invalid and unconventional. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As the pandemic took a toll on everyone, disrupting lives and destroying livelihoods, we were once again met with the mantra of staying happy in the face of peril. In an already difficult and traumatic time, this led to suppression of emotions of those facing these challenges head-on.
These emotions are valid. They are human. Toxic positivity robs us of our authentic human emotions, functioning as an avoidance mechanism. It leads to discounting, dismissing and denying feelings, ours and others’ alike. It causes an imbalance to our emotional well-being. Such toxicity leads to feelings of guilt and shame, and a belief that if you are unable to be positive in the face of the crisis, you are clearly doing something wrong; this is untrue on so many levels.
Consequences of Toxic Positivity and its types
To force a positive outlook on pain is to encourage a person to keep silent about their struggles. Most of us don’t want to be seen as a drag or “bad,” so when the choice is between to be brave and to be honest or pretend like everything is going great, we are often tempted to choose the latter. Shame is crippling to the human spirit and one of the most uncomfortable feelings we can feel. But, accepting the reality and expressing how you feel can sometimes feel great.
Several psychological studies show us that hiding or denying feelings leads to more stress on the body and/or increased difficulty avoiding the distressing thoughts and feelings. When we don’t want to show a part of ourselves, we create a fake face or public persona for the world. That face can sometimes look cheery, with a happy smile, stating, “Everything happens for a reason, it is what it is.” When we go into hiding like that, we deny our truth. The real truth is, life can hurt sometimes. If you’re angry—and the angry feelings aren’t acknowledged—they get buried deep within our body.
These suppressed emotions can later manifest in anxiety, depression, or even physical illness. It’s important to acknowledge the reality of our emotions by verbalizing them and moving them out of our bodies. This is what keeps us sane, healthy and relieves us of the tension caused by suppressing the truth.
Signs of toxic positivity
Are you someone who thinks that “it could be worse!” to try and stay positive? Caution! it’s toxic.
How can you know if your positivity is toxic? There are certain signs in your perspective of negative situations that can help you identify toxic positivity!
– You feel guilty about being sad or angry.
– You don’t like people to see you unhappy
– You don’t analyse the sadness and you go with the flow
– You don’t vent out about how you really feel
– Being unhappy seems like a sign of weakness to you
– You hide behind those positive Pinterest quotes!
– You fight hard with others who lack positivity rather than supporting them
Toxic positivity isn’t about being negative, but it’s about being too positive and not realising that ups and downs is what makes the human life ‘human’.
If you can relate with these signs, do not worry because toxic positivity can be overcomed, with patience, and acceptance.
HOW TO OVERCOME TOXIC POSITIVITY :
“Acceptance” is the keyword in the process of overcoming this toxicity. Accepting negative emotions as a part of your life, accepting the temporary nature of phases, and accepting your mind wanting to rest for a while.
Being unhappy doesn’t make you a guilty person, it makes you a human being. Emotionally tough phases are inevitable, but your outlook towards them, it’s in your hands.
Talk to someone about how you really feel, accept that this phase shall pass eventually, accept the support offered by other people to eradicate the feeling of you being alone in this fight. You will come out of this phase wiser, stronger and healthier and yes, you will.
While life may seem unfair at times, you need to accept that it’s fair and unfair that constitutes a human life because of this very beautiful ability to feel. It’s okay to not be okay at times but here’s a spoiler, “Everything will be alright”.
Written by Nandinii, Khushi and Naman.
Akshita · 26 January 2021 at 7:51 pm
Very well written! A good read indeed❤️
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