Is being positive always a good thing? Actually, no. Sometimes, being positive can be an incredibly negative thing. So, how do we know when and how to be positive? Here’s a simple guide to toxic positivity so you can understand it, recognize it and avoid it!
A Simple Definition
Toxic positivity is when only the welcomed emotions are positive. It’s when you’re required to maintain a ‘happy mood’ regardless of how hard of a time it is for you. Of course, it’s important to stay optimistic and hopeful, but toxic positivity is when it exceeds being optimistic and turns into concealing emotions. Negative emotions, like sadness, frustration or stress are as natural as happiness, excitement and joy. All emotions are valid and deserve to be felt.
What’s it like?
Toxic positivity has many forms, some of which you may have come across. Sometimes, people try to offer a different perspective instead of actually listening – saying things like ‘It could be worse, X could’ve happened instead’. Another form would be having a ‘good vibes only’ mindset, which results in superficial and cliche quotes rather than actual advice. Other ways include shaming others for feeling sad or angry, or guilty for feeling unwell.
How Do We Avoid It?
While others may do it with good intention, it can still hurt us. Being aware of it is the first step. Whether it’s being aware of toxic positivity or being aware of your own needs, awareness will help us express ourselves better and have productive interactions with others. The next time someone tries to tell you toxic positive statements, respectfully communicate to them what you actually need.
How Do We Avoid Doing It?
Toxic positivity has become so common that we may do it too without realizing it. When others rant to you, allow them to express negative emotions. Try to listen to what they have to say and focus on supporting them in the way they need. You could also be practicing toxic positivity towards yourself by denying your emotions; be realistic about how you should be feeling and aim to manage your emotions rather than deny them.