Imprisonment by Toxic Positivity

Photo by Alec Douglas on Unsplash

Be happy! “So, what if you are sad, be optimistic?” If we go by that logic, we should totally dismiss any negative feeling. Right?

“Toxic positivity is the assumption, either by one’s self or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset or — my pet peeve term — positive vibes,” says Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, a clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania who specializes in anxiety disorders and self-esteem among other things.

We all know people who always go like “be positive” or “positive vibes only”. They make it seem like something is wrong with you if you are not always happy. They don’t want to listen to what caused you to feel a certain way rather they tell you to mask it.

The pressure to appear OK invalidates the range of emotions we all experience, which can be internalized in a core belief that you are inadequate or weak for not experiencing things the right way.

When we avoid our unpleasant feelings, we make them bigger. It gets hard for us to navigate through. Mental health experts advise to sit with emotions and try to understand what they mean.

Signs of toxic positivity can vary. From dismissing our own negative emotions to telling others to get over it and then lashing out for their lack of positivity. It’s a slippery slope, bad things happen and we keep telling ourselves it can be worse which prevents us from getting help.

It’s okay to not be okay. Human beings are complex with complex emotions. By denying the negative we are cutting ourselves off from life and all that it has to offer. The best course of action is to stop pretending that everything is perfect. Accept the pitfalls and try to make things better.

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Tanya

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