I often get this question if Toxic positivity is real. And the answer is YES. Toxic positivity is ‘REAL’.
What is Toxic positivity?
Toxic positivity is the assumption by oneself or others that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation they should have a positive mindset or look at things positively.
It’s an attempt to discount your feelings and struggle.
Toxic positivity can take many forms:
It can be you telling yourself ‘don’t be so weak’ or ‘why am I crying over such a small thing’. This happens in spite of knowing that what you are going through requires your time and attention.
It can be your family members telling you to look at the positive side of being grateful for what you have.
It can be your friends or anybody in your social environment who is trying to make you feel weak or bad for feeling a certain way.
What we all need to understand is that feeling our feelings is natural. Judging yourself for feelings of pain, sadness , anxiety etc is not ok, because this is a part of the human experience and nobody can run away from it.
The process of toxic positivity results in denial and minimization of authentic human emotional experience.
Positivity can be a good force because it can motivate you but that doesn’t work all the time. At times it is really important for you to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings because that will help you get through something that is causing you pain. It will help you accept the situation and heal from it.
Healing is only possible when you sit with your feelings instead of running away from it.
What to do Instead
Accepting difficult emotions helps with coping and with decreasing the intensity of those emotions.
Think about how good it feels when you can finally talk about how hard your day was or anything that’s troubling you. It is like lifting weight from your chest.
Speak about it and seek help from someone you trust or professionals.
Understand that there are no bad or good emotions. Emotions and thoughts are just simply emotions and thoughts.
While it may be beneficial to try to look on the bright side of things. It's important to also acknowledge and listen to our emotions when they aren’t pleasant.
Paying attention and processing your emotions as they come and go may help you better understand yourself and those around you.
It will help you empathize better with others.
Your feelings and emotions are VALID. We shouldn’t have to pretend that everything is ‘OK’ when it isn’t. No one can be a ray of sunshine 24/7. We all have our good days and bad days. And that’s how humans work!