We have all stumbled across posts that tell us to live a happy life and to only be positive at all times. With the onset of social media, this mindset has been spread further by the masses. So what is the problem with the hundreds of “good vibes only” posts on our social media feed?
Toxic positivity is the excessive optimistic and happy state that one behaves in all situations. In other words, it is when a person maintains a positive mindset no matter how dire the situation is. While engaging in positive thinking is not bad in itself, the issue is that toxic positivity does not let one feel negative emotions. The idea of dealing with emotions is rejected and, a cheerful facade on display.
While looking at life through a positive lens is good for one’s well-being, sometimes life isn’t always positive. Everyone naturally goes through tough situations, which come together with painful emotions. Despite these emotions being hard to experience, they need to be dealt with openly and honestly to grow as a person.
When excessive positivity is used as a coping mechanism, suppressed emotions become detrimental to one’s mental well being. But not letting ourselves experience certain feelings, we are constantly lying to ourselves about how we feel. It’s natural to feel jealous, angry, upset or greedy sometimes because life has its ups and downs.
When someone dies, we hear people say, “everything happens for a reason”. While there might be no ill intentions behind these words, they also make you feel like you should not be upset. These words are supposed to be supportive but it makes it feel like one’s feelings are not valid. Toxic positivity acts as a sort of avoidance mechanism for avoiding emotional situations that might make one uncomfortable.
Those going through tough times can seriously be harmed by toxic positivity. Even when they share their normal human emotions with those close to them, they receive comments that dismiss or invalidates those emotions. Just because an emotion expressed is negative, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is terrible. Telling someone that what they feel is “wrong” invalidates what they are feeling is wrong. If someone is going through tough times, they will feel guilty for feeling negative emotions instead of being positive in the face of adversity.
To avoid toxic positivity, the best course of action to take is to recognise your negative emotions. Being realistic about what you feel is essential instead of faking happiness. Stress can be caused by negative emotions but, it could also provide useful information about yourself when dealt with properly. Engaging in self-care and doing things you love can be healthy forms of dealing with negative emotions.
When facing a challenge, it’s normal to feel anxious about the future but excited by the prospect of one at the same time. Human emotions are complex and, one should let themselves experience even the negative ones when they hit you. Being honest about your emotions can be the best way to help find solutions to deal with them. They are valid and can provide important insights about yourself.