What is toxic positivity?
Be positive! Have you ever been told to stay positive, and everything will work itself out? It could feel like your whole world is falling apart, and you’re in the depths of despair, but you must keep it together. After all, other people have it worse.
There’s a word for this: toxic positivity. According to Medicalnewstoday.com, toxic positivity is defined as an obsession with positive thinking. A belief that no matter how tragic the experience, people should have positive spin on the situation.
Examples of everyday toxic positivity:
-If you are experiencing depression, you get told to just think positive and get over it.
- “It could always be worse”
- “There are people in parts of the world, who are starving and dying. What do you have to complain about?”
- Championing resilience, but never questioning why resilience was needed in the first place
- “Stay strong” when losing someone close to you
- “Everything happens for a reason”
Why is toxic positivity problematic?
When people say, “Be positive”, it is most likely coming from a good place. They did not mean harm, but it can harmful. It places added pressure on you to avoid or ignore the negative emotions you are experiencing and move on.
It may cause social isolation, as you may feel that you are unable to receive emotional support or seek mental health treatment. A sense of failure can develop affecting your self-esteem.
Being unable to process negative emotions, can manifest in worsening physical or mental health. It can also worsen your personal relationships.
How to combat toxic positivity?
Fortunately, there are a few strategies to combat toxic positivity culture:
-Allowing yourself and others to feel negative emotions
-Talking with a trusted person about your negative emotions
-Actively listening and being kind to others
-Creating a safe space for yourself and others to experience negative emotion
-Taking time to rest
-Seeking mental health treatment or counseling, if needed
How do you deal with negative emotions? What do you say to someone when they are having a hard time?