Toxic positivity is described as the excessive and detrimental generalization of a cheery, optimistic state in all situations. Toxicity in the form of toxic optimism leads to a negation, diminution, and invalidation of authentic human emotional expression.
Positivity becomes harmful when it is abused to mask or hide the truth of the human experience. Repressed emotions occur when we deny the presence of certain feelings. Unfortunately, we are all flawed. Envy and jealousy lead to irritability, resentment, and even avarice. At times, life can be exasperating. It’s a lie to say that we’re always happy when we’re actually miserable.
Here are some reasons why it’s a problem:
Why It’s Harmful
Toxic positivity can affect those who are going through a difficult time. Instead of being able to express genuine human emotions and get unwavering support, people’s views are rejected, disregarded, or outright invalidated.
It’s humiliating: When someone is in pain, they need to know that their feelings are legitimate, but that they can find comfort and love in their friends and family. Toxic optimism serves as a warning that one’s feelings are too unpleasant to be tolerated.
It instils guilt: If you’re unable to see a way to remain cheerful in the face of tragedy, you’re doing something incorrectly.
It operates as an avoidance device for genuine human emotion: Toxic positivity is often utilized as a coping mechanism. A person’s emotional state can be avoided if they engage in this type of activity with other people. However, some of these detrimental beliefs are internalized and turned against us. Painful feelings are ignored, disregarded, and denied when they arise.
It inhibits growth: It helps us avoid difficult emotions, but it also hinders us from addressing unpleasant feelings that can contribute to the growth and deeper knowledge.
People living through trauma, on the other hand, do not need to be told to keep cheerful or to feel criticized for not doing so. Read more about the danger of not processing your emotions here.
How To Spot Toxic Positivity
Toxic optimism can be difficult to spot, but learning to recognize the indicators will help you spot this type of conduct. Among the warning indicators are:
- Avoiding difficulties rather than confronting them
- Feeling remorseful about being sad, angry, or dissatisfied
- Hiding your genuine feelings behind more socially acceptable feel-good statements
- Hiding or masking your true feelings
- Ignoring other people’s feelings because they make you feel uneasy
- Making fun of others when they don’t have a cheerful attitude
- Attempting to be stoic or “get over” unpleasant feelings
How to Avoid Toxic Positivity
Here are a few suggestions:
- Negative feelings should not be suppressed, but rather dealt with.
- Keeping a lid on your negative emotions might contribute to stress, but they can also provide useful knowledge that can lead to better decisions in your life.
- Tell yourself the truth about how you’re really feeling. Pressure, anxiety, and even fear are all-natural reactions to stressful situations. Don’t put yourself under too much stress. Self-care and taking steps to improve your situation should be your main focus.
- I don’t think it’s wrong to feel a variety of emotions at once. With a new challenge, it’s natural to feel anxious and hopeful about your possibilities of success at the same time. The problem is as convoluted as your emotions.
- Show that you care about what others are saying by listening to them. Don’t use toxic tropes to silence someone who is expressing a difficult emotion. Make sure they know their emotions are normal, and let them know you’re here to listen.
- Keep a journal to keep track of your emotions. While it may be energizing to follow “positive” social media accounts from time to time, you should be mindful of how you feel after engaging with such content. Toxic positivity may be to blame if you experience remorse or shame after seeing “inspiring” posts. You may want to consider limiting your use of social media in certain scenarios.
This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.