The Danger of Toxic Positivity

I’m a big fan of the quote “positive vibes only“. As a matter of fact, a t-shirt from my first MS merch collection says that. Positivity is a good thing. I believe in the aura of staying positive and manifesting good things into your life. However, as with everything, no one can be positive all the time. Positivity can be toxic, and that’s what I’m addressing in this post.

What is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic positivity or positive toxicity is a dysfunctional approach to emotional management that happens when people do not fully acknowledge negative emotions, particularly anger and sadness. It is a pressure to remain cheerful no matter how terrible the situation is. Toxic positivity happens when people believe that negative thoughts are not permitted. In essence, it’s forced positivity.

Examples of Toxic Positivity

You don’t cry or let yourself grieve. You act like nothing happened.You cry, wail and be aware of the reality of what has happened.
It is well.It will be well.
Failure is not permitted.Failure is normal and a part of growth.
Don’t think about it. Move on.I’m here for you when you’re ready to talk about it.
There are worse things. It’s not that bad.It’s okay to feel bad.
You must remain positive.It’s hard to remain positive in a situation like this.

A person that practices toxic positivity suppresses their true emotions. They refuse to acknowledge that sadness is normal. They believe in acting like everything is okay all the time and ignore the truth. They don’t let themselves feel pain, hurt, anger and disappointment. This is where the danger lies.

Staying positive all the time and ignoring your true feelings are detrimental to your health. In denying your truth, you stop being true to yourself. As a result, you don’t let yourself heal, grow and learn. Below are some of the dangers of toxic positivity:

  • Failed Relationships: In your desire to remain positive, you don’t address the issues in your relationships, and once your tank is full, you explode, leaving no room for repair.
  • Self-harm: The endless belief that things will be good can make someone stay in a bad situation longer than they should without even realizing that they’re hurting themselves in the process.
  • Low self-esteem: Toxic positivity can make someone feel inadequate or unworthy when they aren’t attaining the level of positivity they believe they should.
  • Depression: A consistent low mood and energy coming off from the non-admittance that things are not fine can lead to clinical depression.

Responding to Toxic Positivity

The first step to recognizing toxic positivity is self-awareness. Be aware of your emotions and how you deal with them. Also, be mindful of how you respond to other people’s emotions. Acknowledge that bad things happen, and we interpret situations differently. Once you are in tune with your emotions and feelings, try these other suggestions below.

  • Seek Therapy: Talking to someone who isn’t a co-worker, friend or family member can help you put things in perspective. It’s a no-judgement zone.
  • Surround Yourself With People Who Speak Truthfully to You: People who help you when you’re low, tell you when you’re wrong and help you deal with any problems you may have.
  • Do not Belittle Other People’s Situations: Instead of making people feel like they are overreacting, guide them to solving their problems empathetically.

I hope this post helped. Please share the ways you respond to toxic positivity in the comments.

Mariam Shittu

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