When positivity is toxic – What are the Signs of Toxic positivity

When positivity is toxic – What are the Signs of Toxic positivityPhoto from Unsplash

Originally Posted On: https://thinkstrong.uk/when-positivity-is-toxic-what-are-the-signs-of-toxic-positivity/


Here is how to spot the signs of toxic positivity, to protect your mental health and build stronger relationships.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told to just ‘think positive’, ‘things could be worse’,‘ and that ‘there are others worse off than you’. It’s not until I’ve got older, I’ve realised not only my emotional well-being was neglected and devalued, but also the impact it had on my mental health.

Typically this can stem from childhood, where you grow up around parents that are unable to deal with negative situations or emotions, force unrealistic high expectations into you, or are simply too busy to sit down and talk about how you are feeling.

It’s important to remember that being taught to ignore your feelings and to just ‘get on with it’, or ‘you’re lucky to have a roof over your head’, or that your ‘ungrateful’ is not okay, and it can have a severe lasting impact on your ability to communicate, your empathy towards others and how you cope later on in life with inevitable challenges.

The good news is now you’re an adult yourself, you can absolutely break this thought process, and live a happier, more fulfilling life.

What is toxic positivity?

Toxic positivity is when someone doesn’t fully acknowledge their negative emotions. They attempt to maintain a positive mindset regardless of their circumstances or true feelings. Emotions such anger or sadness are just as valid as those that are positive.

Here are some examples of phrases used which could be signs of toxic positivity in a certain context:

  • ‘Stay positive’
  • ‘It could be worse’
  • ‘Other people are worse off’
  • ‘Stop moaning’
  • ‘Positive vibes only’
  • ‘No time for negativity’
  • ‘Look on the bright side’

Sound familiar? An example of this could be that you text your partner to let them know you’ve had a really bad day at work, but you instantly follow it up with ‘it could be worse’ or they respond with ‘look on the bright side xyz’ – ask yourself, is this supportive or helpful? More than likely not.

Not connecting with emotions can lead to impacting your mental health, when we promote toxic positivity, we think that we are ‘being positive’ but in fact, we are actually suppressing our emotions and not resolving the core of our problem.

It’s important to remember that all emotions, ranging from sad, angry, guilt, happiness are equally valid, but we must label these feelings and allow them to run their course, before accepting them and moving on.

What makes positivity harmful

A general positive outlook on life is not harmful, it can be a good trait to have. However, it becomes toxic when someone believes that they must only be positive and avoid addressing serious problems that are affecting their mood, or lacking empathy towards themselves or others.

Some of the risks could be:

  • Dismissing others emotions – This can lead to the other person feeling unheard, unimportant and devalued.
  • Stigma – pressure or expectation to be happy, although the person is deeply struggling.
  • Destroy relationships – All relationships have issues and require effort from both parties. Avoiding issues can lead to relationships breaking down.
  • Abuse – Having a false positive outlook may stop someone from leaving a toxic relationship, trying to ‘look on the bright side’ or just see the positives in that person.
  • Depression – By ignoring negative feelings, problems don’t get fixed. For example, having a ‘just get on with it’ or ‘lucky to have a job’ attitude, it could force someone to stay in a job that makes them unhappy.
  • Low self-esteem – The person may feel inadequate if they don’t constantly feel happy or positive, leading to negative self-talk and feeling low.

When positivity is turning toxicMasking your true emotions can be a sign of toxic positivity. It’s an emotional avoidance, lack of empathy, denial and invalidates yours or others feelings.

Signs of toxic positivity can be:

  • Using the phrase “It will all workout at the end” in an act of avoidance, and not wanting to deal with the situation
  • Dismissing others emotions
  • Lacking empathy towards yourself or others
  • Ignoring all negative thoughts
  • Minimising others feelings by saying ‘it could be worse’
  • Devaluing yourself, self criticism or guilt for your true feelings
  • Using the phrase “Everything happens for a reason” as a way of avoiding talking about the emotion, rather than using it as a positive to move on after you’ve dealt with the situation.

What Is Authentic Positivity?

Authentic positivity is your ability to accept the reality of life. Sometimes life doesn’t go our way, but by connecting with our all of our emotions, allowing our feelings to take course and then accepting the situation, will allow you to deal with the situation and become stronger. Should you suppress the emotion and avoid the situation, you will simply burry the problem and it will crop up later or on the wrong thing.

For example, you’ve had an awful day at work, you decide to avoid the situation and tell yourself ‘at least I’ve got a job’ and it’s ‘not that bad’. You then arrive home, and your partner nags you that you didn’t empty the dishwasher this morning. Usually you have patience and communicate, however, you’ve allowed the work issue to build up, you get angry, and take it out on them, rather than talk about the actual work problem.

Once you allow yourself to experience your negative feelings, you can then move on and gain perspective. You can then start to use your energy for your interests, love, contentment, gratitude, and your purpose.

How to avoid toxic positivity

Now we know the signs of toxic positivity, here are a few strategies for avoiding self-toxic positivity:

  • Keep a diary – Identify and label negative emotions
  • Recognise negative feelings as a positive, and it’s your bodies way of telling you to deal with a problem or make a change.
  • Try not to avoid emotions, tell yourself ‘just for tonight I will allow myself to feel sad, and after a good night sleep, I will decide on my next step’
  • Accept you may not feel 100% overnight, depending on the situation. It may take time to heal, or time to make changes for the better.
  • Avoid judgemental people, surround yourself with people who are supportive, and will listen
  • Seek support from a therapist
Data & News supplied by www.cloudquote.io
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.