Toxic Positivity is a ‘Good vibes only’ approach, which is actually not good for your mental health

It can be hard to believe that positivity at times can even be toxic. Toxic positivity is basically a belief that no matter how difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. It is the assumption that despite a person’s emotional affliction a person should have a positive point of view. Staying optimistic no matter what and sticking to the ‘Good vibes only’ approach in every situation is a trait of Toxic positivity.

While it is good to stay positive in many situations, it doesn’t apply to everything and sometimes it is gross to say ‘look on the bright side’. We might not be capable of handling what happens to us every time, but it’s upon us to decide how to address a problem. 

What exactly is ‘Toxic Positivity’?

“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,” explains Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, a clinical psychologist. 

You can come across toxic positivity in various forms. It could be a false pretense by your friends that how productive they are while sitting inside their homes or how happening their life is. It can even be someone trying to convince you to stop thinking about a thing that bothers you. Toxic positivity may lead to a decrease in satisfaction about life and self-esteem issues.

Using positivity is an essential approach to deal with the challenges of life however when it is overdone it can lead to invalidation of emotions. Positivity overdone leads to toxic positivity which proves counterproductive to dealing with the challenges of life.

Traits of Toxic Positivity

  1. Feeling guilty about your negative feelings or questioning your emotions again and again.
  2. Trying to hide or suppress your true feelings.
  3. Brushing off things that are troubling you by saying “It is what it is”.
  4. Dismissing your thoughts or distracting yourself to stop thinking about a particular thing.
  5. Getting insecure with other’s happiness or sense of positivity.
  6. People trying to hide their failures and criticism.
  7. Portrayal of your negative character traits as positive; justifying it by saying ‘I am like this because I am pisces’.

Toxic Positivity is unhealthy

This pandemic filled our brains with stress and anxiety. We do not always have the cognitive capacity to tackle something with a heavy learning curve and take on a new task. Not everyone is capable of coping with stress by getting busy. And for many, the positive posts and texts are harmful, leading to increased feelings of depression and anxiety.

People who are forced to feel positive start to feel guilty about the negative emotions that are a valid part of human emotions. By trying to vilify the negative emotions and force people to feel positive emotions, they lose contact with themselves. They start to pretend to be somebody who they are not. This puts a lot of pressure on their already disturbed emotional world. When such people get disconnected from their own self they fail to connect well with other people as well which in turn churn more negativity in their personal as well as interpersonal relations. 

When we don’t want to show a part of ourselves, we create a fake face or public persona for the world and when it becomes difficult to maintain that fake identity we end up getting disheartened. It is therefore necessary to remain honest and true to ensure good mental health.

How to deal with Toxic Positivity?

  1. Be realistic about what you feel: Don’t try to mask, covert, or crush your feelings. Don’t even let others manipulate your feelings or mindset.
  1. Avoid ignoring or stuffing your emotions: Try to understand your feelings and get clarity of thoughts. You can choose to think about it in order to feel better.
  1. Manage your negative emotions, but don’t deny them: If you want to cry let yourself cry for a while. Don’t try to ignore your negative emotions by pretending that you are strong.
  1. Identify toxic positivity messages: Try to understand and recognise those texts or posts which let you feel bad about your situation. Stop reading such toxic messages.
  1. Stay away from pretentious people: If you think you are friends with someone who is not true and never leaves a chance to prove that they are doing something better than you, it might be time to get rid of such friendship.
  1. If you feel so, keep a distance from social media: Social media is sometimes not good for your mental health. If it is making you feel bad in some way or the other, log out.

7. Remember, it’s OK to not be OK: Stick to this golden rule and find your mental peace by accepting it.