Rise of Toxic Positivity! Prathima Koppolu October 21, 2021

Have you ever heard someone say “Don’t be upset, think positively!” Or “Why are you hurt? See the bright side..” whenever you’re sharing an upsetting story, or being vulnerable and confiding in someone…? 

This my friend, is called Toxic Positivity! 

Toxic Positivity is an obsession that people have with positive thinking. They want to spin the whole situation and expect others or even themselves to have a positive experience, even when something bad or traumatic has occurred. 

This culture has dramatically emerged where only the positive emotions are welcomed, while overlooking other emotions like “anger”, “sadness”, “guilt”, “anxiety” and “fear.” Emotions that are not always nice are considered extremely wrong or bad, instead of just being looked upon as something very normal. 

Here are some examples of the same! 

  • Urging someone to focus on the positive side of a devastating loss.
  • Telling someone to get over their grief and anger and focusing on the positive aspects of life. 
  • Believing that people who always show positive emotions are “strong” people. 
  • Brushing off someone’s experience by telling them that things could have been worse and that they should be grateful. 
  • Boldly asserting someone by saying “Everything happens for a reason” 
  • Urging people to thrive, no matter what they’re going through in their life. 

Why is Toxic Positivity dangerous? 

  • When someone only focuses on the positive emotions, they try to see the world through only one perspective. By focusing only on the positive, it removes any possibility of “communicating effectively” in any relationship or friendship. It does not focus on communicating and sorting the issues, which in turn destroys any possibility of growth! 
  • A general positive outlook is not wrong, but someone who stresses on the same 24/7 might believe that the only way of going through life is by avoiding uncomfortable situations and emotions and not addressing the underlying pain or grief that comes along the way. 
  • Most of the time, people feel pressured to keep a smile, in the face of adversity, which can be extremely harmful for many! Bottling all the uncomfortable emotions isn’t really helpful in the long run.
  • It affects your self-esteem. Life is full of ups and downs, but when you force yourself to not feel these different emotions, you also numb yourself to feel happiness, excitement, love and joy! 

How to avoid Toxic Positivity?

  • The first and foremost thing is to know that Life is uncertain and filled with change. That happiness is temporary and so is sadness! 
  • Try identifying the emotions instead of numbing them away or running away from them. This is a great way of keeping a track of your emotions. 
  • Try maintaining a personal journal, where you write things completely raw and unfiltered. Practicing this for a few days, can make you feel much lighter in the future! Lighter in terms of the pressure and the overcrowded emotions.
  • Talk to your close family members or friends about emotions. It doesn’t have to be sweet and nice every time, you can also share your sadness and let your friends be there for you at times. 
  • Try seeking the help of a professional, if you feel that you need help! It’s never wrong to ask for help. 

In conclusion, there isn’t anything wrong in feeling positive or happy, but you cannot carry a smiling face 24/7 and that is absolutely okay! Acknowledging different and uncomfortable emotions, sitting around them, processing and accepting them slowly and steadily, without judging yourself is a great way of showing up for yourself and loving yourself, even when times get tough! Take care today. 💛

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