Health & FitnessThe dangers of toxic positivity

The dangers of toxic positivity

For the most part, human beings are programmed to look on the bright side of everything. In fact, being positive is the key to survival in many instances. However, there is such a thing as toxic positivity.

This is the belief that no matter how difficult or horrible a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. The problem with it is (positive thinking aside) toxic positivity requires you to swallow all negative emotions in favour of a cheerful and often falsely-positive façade.

Platitudes like ‘don’t worry be happy’ when your world has just been turned upside down can leave a sick feeling in your stomach and almost make you want to slap the person saying it to you. (Of course you won’t but yes imagining things helps)

Sometimes grief has to be processed, not swept under the rug, any attempt to do so can often and easily backfire, in fact there are people who often pretend nothing happened in the face of devastating personal loss and years down the road are a mess as they continued trying to be positive without ever processing the pain and letting sadness run its course.

This isn’t to say that one shouldn’t be optimistic in the face of challenges. But people who are already struggling with pain and trauma shouldn’t have to be consistently told to keep smiling and not process their pain.

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Overkilling feelings of positivity is harmful simply because it isn’t genuine. People who are going through a hard time should have unconditional support and be able to share their feelings, not have them dismissed and swept under the carpet. Their feelings should be validated.

This false positivity can cause feelings of shame and guilt in the individual for feeling the way they do however valid. It avoids authentic human emotion. The ‘be positive’ chime can be a real headache for those going through losing a loved one, emotional or physical abuse, losing their jobs, or facing a terminal illness. It feels quite dismissive of their feelings and is cruel.

Recognize that you or someone close to you may be brushing off problems with a false façade of toxic positivity, hiding their true feelings behind trite comments and pop psychology,  and shaming others who aren’t as “positive” as them.

If you’re going through a devastating life event, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about being sad, angry or disappointed or make you feel like you’re a pessimist for having these very real and natural feelings.

There is no need to always feel pressured to put up a brave, fake and false front in the name of false positivity it is toxic and mars your authentic self. Be brave, be optimistic but process your grief in a real and natural manner.

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