Now, I did a brief introduction on what today’s topic is in a previous post, but I want to go through this topic a bit more. Toxic positivity….sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it but it’s a term I learnt last year when I was going through some struggles. I read a bit more about it in a blog post by Transatlantic Notes as well. Now being positive or having positivity in your life isn't a bad thing, it should be something you should thrive for. But how can it be toxic? Let's get into a definition first.
“Toxic positivity is the belief that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset.”
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When there is so much happening in the world and maybe in your life right now, it’s okay to not feel not okay. Trying to think positively can be helpful but for some, it can be a bit difficult. Even if someone gives positive advice when you have some rough times, that’s great but what happens when they are constantly positive when things don’t seem to be going well? Here are a few signs of toxic positivity:
Trying to get over or dismiss painful feelings
Hiding how you feel about a situation
Shaming others for expressing/venting emotions
Feeling guilt about feeling emotions such as anger, sad or confused
Telling someone different perspectives such as “it could be worse’ or “look at the bright side”
Tell someone they are “too negative” when expressing themselves.
These signs can lead to persons affecting their own mental health. A few risks of toxic positivity are:
A person could develop communication issues as they may feel to ignore a problem and only focus on what’s positive.
A person may decide to suppress their emotions, maybe in hopes that they would go away. This can cause stress on a person’s body or just leave them feeling distressed.
Feeling shame in feeling down about anything and trying to stay positive to not seem emotional (sad, angry). A person may not want to look sad or feel like a burden to someone.
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I wrote a little bit about my experience with toxic positivity in this post, but I’ll go into it a bit more. I was in a relationship some time ago and around time, it was 2020… remember 2020…let’s not but you get it. Also, I was going through a bit of a distressing time and felt comfortable with this person just about how I felt. At first, they were being nice and tried to make me feel better, which I appreciated, but after a while, their attitude changed. They ended up stopping me from talking about something I was going through and said “tell me another time” to them just saying I’m too negative. I spoke in another post about an experience with a classmate I had in high school. The girl straight up told me I was too negative and I took offence to it but she was right. When I was about 17, I was pretty negative about everything, I complained a lot, the world or life wasn’t really kind to me for a few years so I wasn’t a joyful person at one point haha. I took what she said and looked at myself I realized I needed to change the way I think. During this time I still allowed myself to feel any negative emotions, because I still think it’s still important for you to allow yourself to feel, even if it’s not the nicest emotion. Going back to that relationship, I actually believe that I was being too negative again and felt like I was a burden to that then-boyfriend. It took a couple of months and a breakup to allow me to realize that…I wasn’t too negative, I was going through a stressful time and feeling that way was completely normal. I had times when I was okay and I was definitely not like my 17 years old self around that time. He was also someone who always talked about positive vibes and thinking positively…and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think when you start to minimize someone's feelings for not trying to be positive, not thinking positively or “surrounding yourself with negativity”, I will start to think you’re not so “positive” yourself. I also find it funny, I realized all of that after a breakup, it’s like everything starts to make sense when it ends haha.
For those that might act a little like my ex or persons I’ve encountered, I found a great chart that could help how to say things to people in a better way when a friend or family member wants to express themselves.
Photo from The Psychology Group
Trust me, changing how you say anything can make a big difference to those who felt safe or comfortable talking to you.
I’ve had this topic written down to do for about a year and finally did it. I hope you found this one today interesting and a little educational. Just want to say this again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with developing a positive mindset and trying to stay positive. The human brain is pretty special and it can cause us to feel many things, good and bad, it’s okay to let bad emotions flow through, I say it’s better to accept them and make them pass rather than ignore them. As usual, I got a few questions for you:
Have you heard about toxic positivity before?
Do you think someone can be too positive?
Do you think you have encountered toxic positivity?
I’m also gonna add a few links that helped me write this post today and it could be some extra readings for some out there. Some go more in-depth than my post so check them out if you like.
Save for later!