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Why Toxic Positivity Is Harmful

Why Toxic Positivity Is Harmful

Ella Morley

Toxic positivity is the belief that your view on life must always be positive no matter how good or bad you are feeling.

Phrases such as ‘It could always be worse’ or ‘look on the bright side’ are examples of this.

Toxic positivity degrades strong emotions such as sadness, disappointment or loneliness and puts pressure on us to be happy all the time.

However, this is not reality. We all must face painful feelings and avoiding these is actually very harmful to out mental wellbeing.

Here’s how toxic positivity can negatively impact your mental health

It brings up feelings of shame

Being shamed or shaming others for not holding an optimistic outlook is very damaging. Toxic positivity invalidates a person’s feelings during a tough time. This is never a good thing especially during moments where that person needs to know that their emotions are valid. The last thing they need is to get the idea that what they are feeling is  ‘wrong’ just because they are not inherently upbeat.

It suppresses a range of human emotions

Toxic positivity can influence us to dismiss our feelings especially when we are not they are not strictly positive.

Comments from those around you such as ‘Everything happens for a reason’ when you just lost your job or your pet has died might sound comforting when, actually, it fits into the definition of toxic positivity.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if something is in fact toxic positivity. It happens so frequently that often we internalise it and end up shaming ourselves for feeling deeply about difficult experiences.

It causes feelings of guilt

It is quite easy to feel guilty when someone remarks on how you just need to ‘find the silver lining’. Confiding in someone and hearing such a reaction never feels great. If this happened to you then you will know how it feels when someone brushes aside your dilemma.

If you are familiar with this experience, then you can relate to the guilt this causes within you. When this happens, you may inevitably feel like a burden despite the fact that you are never in the wrong for expressing your emotions.

It stops you from progressing

Toxic positivity makes it very easy to push our emotions aside because we believe our pain is not valid. However, if you do not face up to it you will never grow. The current lockdown has completely disrupted our lives and many of us are struggling with this. Yet a lot of us feel the need to stay productive and positive during this time.

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If you are finding it hard at the moment, you are not alone and taking a day off every now and then is very healthy. We can often feel guilty for focusing on ourselves. However, self-care is just as important (if not more important than) diving head first into a pile of work.

Toxic positivity can be hard to detect, and we have all fallen victim to this pattern of thinking.

There is a bit of truth to the saying “someone else has it worse off” – they do, and they always will. But that doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to feel the way you are feeling.

Your emotions are always valid. Do not deny yourself the opportunity to feel them. Life is a competition of who has it worse. You are allowed to feel down or be upset about something.

Now that you are aware of what toxic positivity is, you are able to get rid of that habit and you can show genuine support for those who need it.

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