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Toxic Positivity

Have you ever heard the term “Toxic Positivity?”

Doesn’t it confuse you how positivity can be toxic, right?

A positive attitude means having an optimistic outlook and focusing on the good in a situation. It involves recognizing the positive aspects of a problem while also acknowledging and addressing any negative aspects that need to be addressed. A positive attitude can help us to stay motivated, resilient, and open to new opportunities.

On the other hand, toxic positivity is an overemphasis on positive thinking and an invalidation of negative emotions or experiences. It involves denying or suppressing negative emotions, such as sadness or anger and can make people feel guilty or ashamed for experiencing them. Toxic positivity can lead to ignoring problems, failing to acknowledge our own needs and limits, and putting on a façade of happiness and positivity that is not authentic.

Here are some examples to illustrate the difference:

  • Having a positive attitude: "I didn't get the job, but I know there are other opportunities for me."

  • Toxic positivity: "Don't worry; everything happens for a reason. Just think positively, and everything will work out."

  • Positive attitude: "I'm anxious about the presentation, but I'm prepared, and I'll do my best."

  • Toxic positivity: "Just relax and think positively. You'll do great, and there's nothing to be nervous about."

In summary, having a positive attitude is about being optimistic and realistic. At the same time, toxic positivity is an unhealthy overemphasis on the positivity that can lead to denial and suppression of negative emotions.

Toxic positivity is the idea that one must always maintain a positive attitude, no matter what. While having a positive outlook can be beneficial, toxic positivity can be harmful when used to dismiss or invalidate negative emotions and experiences.

In mental health, toxic positivity can be detrimental because it can discourage people from acknowledging and processing their negative emotions, an essential part of the human experience. When people feel pressured constantly to be positive, they may feel ashamed or guilty about experiencing negative emotions like sadness, anxiety, or anger.

This can create a cycle where individuals suppress negative emotions, making them feel worse over time. Furthermore, toxic positivity can create a barrier to seeking help and support for mental health issues because people may feel expected to handle everything independently and not show vulnerability.

But what gave rise to this culture?

Toxic positivity has become a culture because of the societal pressure to appear happy and positive all the time and the widespread belief that positive thinking is the key to success and happiness. In many cases, people may feel that expressing negative emotions or acknowledging difficult situations is a sign of weakness or failure.

This mindset can lead to toxic positivity. Individuals may feel compelled to suppress their genuine emotions and put on a facade of constant positivity and peace of adversity. This can be harmful because it can prevent people from acknowledging and addressing real issues, and it can also invalidate the experiences of those who are struggling.

In addition, the rise of social media and the constant pressure to present a curated, picture-perfect life online can contribute to toxic positivity. People may feel personal to share positive experiences and emotions, which can create an unrealistic and unhealthy standard for how people should feel and act.

Overall, toxic positivity has become a culture because of societal expectations, beliefs about positivity and success, and the influence of social media. 

Here are some ways to keep ourselves away from the influence of toxic positivity culture:

  1. Acknowledge and validate all of your emotions, even the negative ones. It's essential to allow yourself to feel your feelings and not suppress them.

  2. Surround yourself with people who support you and allow you to express your emotions freely, without judgment.

  3. Practice self-care activities that work for you, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.

  4. Avoid social media accounts or people who promote toxic positivity culture or make you feel bad about expressing negative emotions.

  5. Focus on realistic, achievable goals instead of striving for perfection or unrealistic expectations.

  6. Seek professional help if you're struggling with your mental health or need guidance on managing your emotions.

Remember that it's okay not to be okay all the time. Emotions are a natural part of life, and it's essential to acknowledge and work through them instead of suppressing them. 

It is essential to recognize that it is normal and healthy to experience a range of positive and negative emotions. Acknowledging and addressing negative emotions is a critical part of maintaining good mental health, and seeking support when necessary is a sign of strength, not weakness. It's essential to recognize that genuine positivity should involve acknowledging and working through difficult emotions and situations rather than simply putting on a happy face.

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