Toxic Positivity is real and it does exist.

Hey, don’t worry, everything will be fine, and this is normal with everyone. Oh! Because of this you are tensed, if XYZ can handle this, then why not you? Listen, this is not a critical issue, comeOn! Nothing to worry, you have that potential to cope with any situation. Hey, now, you are exaggerating the problem, remember, humans are stronger than this, and you are a human (said with a smile and pat on the shoulder).

I know you are going through a lot. A problem is a problem, no matter how big or small. But we should not lose our heart and patience. Rather than thinking about it, find a solution to get out of it. Suggest me, how could I be a help to you? Keep patience and have faith in you, this too shall pass (said with a hug).

We may have encountered such statements in our life. They talk about staying positive in life but with different vibes and tones. None of them (from the above statements) want to hurt but is an attempt to make people feel better.

The first paragraph’s tone deals with excessive optimism/positivity showing the crisis shallower whereas the second one deals with real-time situation and its effective measures.

Yes, crises and problems do affect us, they are awful, and we can not ignore them through excessive positivity. Positivity does not harm but ignorance of reality does. Sometimes positivity can be contagious, insincere, awful, and forceful, and such positivity are no less than toxic positivity.  

What is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic positivity is the dark side of positivity which means keeping only a positive attitude and ignoring the rest is the way of life. It develops a tendency to rely more on positive thoughts to get the desired result. It always encourages to look at the brighter side of life which prevents from understanding the real emotion. It sounds really good and motivated, but it has its dim light too.

It is also responsible for suppressing human emotion and covering up experiences.

It can have many forms like family members, friends, and social media which focus on staying positive in every situation. Social media posts with positive/motivating quotes – ‘you are the king of your life, be grateful what you have’, and a family member or friends who always vocalise for positivity are inclined towards one side of life. Actually, they develop a habit of ignoring the darker side and eliminating themselves from reality.

‘To err is human’, a famous proverb seems wrong in the case of toxic positivity but in reality, humans do mistakes, and are full of flaws, jealousy, hatred, love, affection, greed, anger, and many more emotions. Looking at the brighter side is nothing but to disrespect human emotions.

How could one remove emotions from themselves? It is practically impossible, so is the excessive positivity. Without emotion, human existence will be a question mark.

Signs – going too far with positivity

  • Started to avoid things
  • Risking everything
  • Overthinking
  • Victimising yourself
  • A sense of overdoing and bringing perfection
Examples of Toxic Positivity in real life situation.

The dark side of toxic positivity

Unrealistic expectations, and approach towards life – Quotes and statements like ‘The magic of thinking big, dream big and you will be near to your goal’, are contagious and can have ill effects. It encourages to set a bigger goal which seems attractive and achievable in the beginning and thus feels more entitled to it. But once diving into this entitlement starts, the zeal to reach the goal starts fading away which leads to stress in the end.

Impact on health – Too much positivity can be a source of mental and physical illness. It starts neglecting health because of the habit of pretending to be happy. It’s the negativity which gains more focus on health. Lost in the world of positivity leads the way to be less inclined to health because everything seems to be perfect.

Emotional instability – The flexibility of emotion improves our thinking and mood and is the reason to experience life. Inclination towards more positivity hampers emotional flexibility and is bound to focus only on one way while neglecting the rest. The sense of optimism and pessimism balances emotional flexibility and brings stability in emotion.

Time to get over toxic positivity

Avoid ignoring emotion – Bottling up emotions like anger, grief, sadness, can lead to physical stress on the body. Emotion is like air which flows without disturbance. Suppressing emotion means opening a door for illness and other health hazards. The habit of denying or avoiding emotion can be a reason for uncomfortable life, relationships, loss of enthusiasm, feeling of lethargy, and also a sense of isolation.

Expressing emotion keeps everything on track. Imagine a situation if someone starts laughing at the funeral not because they actually are but because they are hiding their real-time emotion.

Stay away from unsolicited advice – Offering and accepting unsolicited advice can be manipulative. It’s always a nice step to ask questions like ‘to what extent it is helpful’ on unsolicited advice. Such advice is never asked for. Before offering and accepting them, understanding the situation and the concerned emotion play an important role to decide if it needs to be taken or not.

Don’t shame anyone for their emotions – Shaming and judging others (even yourself) for their emotions may result in feeling guilty and fear of missing out. What someone is going through or underwent no one can understand and feel it. Experiences vary with the person. Shaming others for their emotion may compel them to suppress their emotion and feel socially isolated, which may land in severe consequences.

Embrace the darkness and be realistic – People love to hug and welcome the attractive and charismatic side of everything but fail to embrace the darkness, whereas darkness is also a reality. Embracing the darkness induces a better understanding and a flexible and adaptive mindset. It empowers to tackle hindrances and personal crises in life with the increment in self-reflection.

Being realistic means balancing all types of emotions rather than dwelling only on positive emotions. Introspection always clears the air and invites realism in people.

Starting a journal journey – If nothing comes out as a solution making a journaling habit always stays one of the best approaches. It is a go-between the emotion and current mental state allowing the person to align with their true-self. Writing is always the best form of expressing one’s feeling, and it does not hold for an emotional-blockage. Reading back the journal in the future gives a sense of complacency and satisfaction of what one went through and how far they have reached now.   

The Last Corner

Toxic positivity is just a state of mind and emotion, it is not an instinct but a trained emotion. It’s the time to say good-bye to toxic positivity and expressing and experiencing real emotions instead of hiding it. Relying too much on positive thinking can be dangerous for mental and physical health too. It aims to show your happiness as if nothing has happened, which is practically impossible. What is the need to pretend to be happy when life and emotions have curves? Why not express real feelings – happy in happy moments and sad in the gloom.

The best way we can bring changes in our excessive positivity by understanding that humans too have limits. There is a limit on everything like vehicle speed, working hours, sleep hours, the air we breathe, and even on human capabilities and that’s why everyone is different. We also need to focus on the diversity of our mind and emotions.  

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