In a world where every time you go shopping you see “Positive Vibes Only” slathered on a t-shirt or coffee mug, toxic positivity is rampant. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing and this is truly the case with toxic positivity. Understanding what toxic positivity means will help you to be aware when you or others are contributing to this mindset that aims to downplay an individual’s feelings and experiences.
What Is Toxic Positivity?
Toxic positivity is the belief that an individual needs an excessively optimistic mindset in any situation regardless of their emotional pain or how difficult the situation. There is nothing wrong with having a positive mindset, and it certainly has its place in helping to motivate or change a person’s attitude, but believing the solution to life’s challenges is always positivity carries some problems.
The Dangers of Toxic Positivity to Mental Health
Having an exclusively positive outlook on life may seem nice on the surface, but deep down it is harmful to someone’s mental health. Toxic positivity allows only positive thoughts to surround an experience and dismisses all negative emotions and feelings as inherently bad. This refusal to value your honest feelings denies you of what you truly feel and invalidates your experiences. This encourages “stuffing” or denying your negative emotions and can lead you to be afraid of your emotions, detachment, and potential addiction problems later on.
What Does Toxic Positivity Look Like?
Any of these phrases or phrases like these used in delicate times like following a breakup, a death in the family, an ensuing pandemic like COVID-19, losing a job, or after a big life change can deny a person of their genuine emotions that are healthy and necessary to have in response to stressful or traumatic life events.
- “Don’t be so negative!”
- “It could be worse…”
- “Always look at the bright side!”
- “You’ll get over it.”
- “There are worse things in the world…”
Could You Be Affected By Toxic Positivity?
Toxic positivity has permeated deep into our culture today, and you have probably seen or felt its effects play out before. Signs of toxic positivity include if you often feel guilty or shameful about feeling negative emotions, try to minimize your or other’s experiences with “it could be worse” or “don’t think about it” notions or by hiding your true feelings.
Feeling and expressing the span of your emotions is healthy and normal. Toxic positivity denies the very emotions that define our human experience and are critical to our emotional health. It’s important to feel safe in expressing your emotions to others, so seek out therapy, family, or friends who will listen, validate and support your feelings through life’s challenges. Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery treatment center. At Avalon, our dedicated staff is committed to making you feel supported in your treatment. If you are ready to seek treatment and begin working towards a life of balance and well-being, call us today at (844) 857-5992.