The internet is filled with encouraging sayings that are supposed to bring positivity in a constructive way, from “think positive” to “no bad days.” These statements may be consoling, but they also draw attention to a negative feature of our culture called toxic positivity.
The idea of toxic positivity conveys that people should keep a positive attitude no matter how bad or challenging their circumstances are. Positive thinking and optimism have advantages, but toxic positivity rejects any unpleasant feelings in favour of a cheerful, deceptively optimistic exterior.
7 Signs That Someone Is Practicing Toxic Positivity
It’s common for toxic positivity to be unnoticeable. You can more easily spot this kind of behaviour if you learn the warning red flags. There are several indicators that someone may be toxically positive:
- Ignoring issues rather than dealing with them.
- Hiding your genuine feelings beneath moralising sayings that pass for acceptable in society.
- Minimising the feelings of others because you find them uncomfortable.
- Shaming other people for their negative attitudes.
- Feeling guilty over being depressed, enraged, or disappointed.
- Covering or masking your true feelings.
- Attempting to “get over” or be stoic about terrible feelings.
A toxic amount of positivity can hurt those who are going through tough situations. Sometimes you might not want to cope with your unpleasant emotions, and that’s natural and understandable. Your mental health may suffer if you consistently try to keep a positive attitude while your feelings are the exact opposite.
Some Effects of Toxic Positivity Are:
1. Makes you feel guilty
Guilt can also result from having a toxic positive attitude. It conveys the idea that if you can’t stay optimistic in the midst of tragedy, something is wrong with you.
2. Prevents growth
We can avoid experiencing highly uncomfortable emotions by using toxic optimism. But this prevents us from being able to confront difficult emotions, which can ultimately promote growth and greater understanding.
3. Feelings of shame
Receiving negative reinforcement can make you feel ashamed. It conveys to them that their feelings are inappropriate. When someone is struggling, they need to understand that their feelings are real and that their loved ones can comfort and cherish them.
4. Avoiding authentic emotions
Toxic positivity serves as a defence mechanism. This kind of action enables people to avoid painful emotional circumstances. These same concepts can be internalised by us at times.
How To Avoid Being Toxic Positive?
There are steps you may take to cultivate a healthier, more helpful mindset if you can identify toxically positive behaviours in yourself. Some of them are:
1. Don’t deny your negative emotions
Unchecked negative emotions can lead to stress. Yet, they can also give you valuable information that can inspire positive life changes.
2. Listen to others and show support
Don’t use toxic optimism to silence someone who is expressing a challenging emotion. Instead, let them know that you are willing to listen and that what they are feeling at that moment is normal.
3. It’s okay to not be okay
Accept that it’s not practical to feel good all the time rather than holding on to the belief that it’s improper to have negative emotions. Remind yourself that it’s entirely OK to not feel well.
How To Cope When Someone Is Being Toxic Positive?
The following are some examples of how to react to toxic positivity if a person you know has a propensity to react to your bad emotions in ways that aren’t encouraging or emotionally validating.
- In terms of your emotions, be realistic. Don’t hold yourself to a high standard. Self-care is a good thing to do, and you should work on improving your circumstances.
- Recognize that it’s ok to experience multiple emotions. When you are dealing with a struggle, it is possible to be both anxious about your future and optimistic that you will succeed.
- Observe your feelings. It might occasionally be helpful to follow “positive” social media accounts for inspiration, but actually listen to how you feel after engaging with such content. After “uplifting” posts, you could experience toxic positivity if you feel guilty or ashamed. If this happens, you might want to cut back on your social media usage.
- Consider the significance of your experiences. For some, the cure for toxic positivity is “tragic optimism,” which refers to the process of looking for meaning in challenging circumstances.
- Write down your emotions. While facing a challenging situation, consider constructive ways to express your feelings. Talk to a friend or journal in your spare time.
But keep in mind, if you don’t deal with your bad emotions, they won’t go away. Hence, acknowledge them, make an effort to comprehend where they could be coming from, and consider what you can do to address them.