Toxic Positivity: What It Means and Are You Guilty Of It?

“you just have to look on the bright side of life…”

But do you really have to?

Toxic Positivity

When something unpleasant happens, we are often greeted with the “good vibes” gang. You know – friends and family that will encourage you to “look on the bright side of life.”

You lost a cherished relationship…

“You deserve better anyway.”

“Just think about how they have lost a beautiful, priceless treasure like you.”

You lost your job…

“It was not your passion anyway. Now you can face what you truly love. Great!”

“It’s OK, focus on other wonderful things in your life. A huge blessing is coming your way soon.”

Can everybody just hol’ up for a second?

It is OK not to feel OK.

Trying to push positive vibes on someone experiencing a low can actually be spreading toxic positivity.

What is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic Positivity

Toxic Positivity suggests an individual struggling with emotional pain to look on the bright side of life, and everything will be fine.

You may not mean to, but this can invalidate the person’s pain. It might make them feel worse.

In reality, sometimes, all we need to do is sit in our feelings and let those negative emotions wash over us. Suppressing them or putting on a fake smile will never do you or your friend any good.

Toxic Positivity Is Never Beneficial.

As aforementioned, suppressing your emotions only brings about more stress for you mentally, and this is the last thing you need.

You might eventually explode, bursting your feelings in the worst possible ways. All because you were not allowed to express how you truly felt.

Toxic Positivity is also scary because it can isolate you. You could feel alone – like no one understands how you feel.

The more isolated you feel (which no one wants these days), the more likely you could face an early death.

It’s scary, indeed. But there are ways to avoid or overcome it.

How to Avoid or Stop Toxic Positivity

Toxic Positivity

So how can your positivity message come across, well – positive? Or, if you are the one in the bad situation, how can you avoid it?

Listen 

We need to listen to each other. We need to start accepting other versions of the people around us, not just the happy ones.

Instead of saying, “Stay positive,.” Why not “I’m listening. Tell me about how you really feel.”

Instead of “Everything has a way of working out,”  You can say, “It’s hard. I’m here for you.”

Set Boundaries

This works both ways. Setting boundaries means stating you do not want advice, just a space to vent and be heard.

Something like: “I feel sad/angry right now and I just need you to sit with me while I get them out.”

Also, if you’re the one unknowingly trying to force positivity on others, it’s OK to think that way. You are only trying to help in ways the society has gotten used to.

How about correcting yourself – “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to invalidate your feelings. You’re allowed to feel this way.”

Reduce Your Use of Social Media

Toxic Positivity flourishes on social media. People only show their best moments and this can have a considerable impact on your mental health – one that might be hard to detect.

Positivity is great, but like anything, there is a place and a time.

The universe knows how to present a yin and yang balance in our lives. It’s not every time you try to squash negativity and look on the bright side of life.

Sometimes, you need to sit and process what happened.

It’s not only healthy but necessary to move through and past it.

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