Toxic positivity refers to the belief that one must remain positive all the time, regardless of the circumstances. It can be harmful because it encourages people to ignore or suppress their negative emotions, which can lead to feelings of guilt or shame.
Toxic positivity can also invalidate someone’s feelings or experiences, making them feel like their emotions are not valid or important. For example, telling someone who is grieving to “just think positive” can be dismissive of their pain and make them feel like their emotions are not valid.
Here are some examples of toxic positivity:
- “Just think positive thoughts and everything will work out.” This statement suggests that any negative experiences can be avoided by simply having a positive mindset, which is not always the case.
- “Good vibes only!” This phrase implies that anything negative or unpleasant is not welcome, and can make people feel guilty for expressing their true emotions.
- “Don’t worry, be happy.” This statement can be dismissive of real concerns and challenges, and can make people feel like their emotions are not valid.
- “Everything happens for a reason.” This phrase can be insensitive to people who have experienced trauma or tragedy, and can make them feel like their experiences are being minimized.
- “Just keep smiling!” This statement can make people feel like they need to put on a facade of happiness, even when they are struggling with difficult emotions.
While positivity can be helpful in some situations, it’s important to acknowledge and process all emotions, both positive and negative. Emotions serve an important purpose in our lives, and ignoring or suppressing them can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
It’s important to allow people to express their emotions and validate their experiences. Instead of telling someone to “just be positive,” try to offer support and empathy. Encouraging people to seek help from a mental health professional is also important if they are struggling with their emotions.
Toxic positivity is a complicated experience because while we may want to remain positive, it can be harmful to ignore the negative. If you or someone you know needs help managing toxic positivity, help is available today.