It’s always nice to be given a positive mantra and to try and uplift you – but it’s okay not to be okay. You shouldn’t have to always pretend that everything is fine or force yourself to be happy all the time, because that isn’t real. Toxic positivity is the assumption that someone should be happy no matter what the circumstances, and that you should have a positive mindset.
Sadly, it’s not just a rare thing and can come in many different forms. It can be a friend who chooses to express frustration rather than listening to your problems or can be as little as a comment to be grateful for what you already have. Toxic positivity is the idea that negative emotions are bad and that positivity is the only way. This is incredibly unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs.
HOW DO I DEAL WITH TOXIC POSITIVITY?
- Start by avoiding repressing your feelings and begin acknowledging the negative emotions and sit with them. Write them down, and express all of your emotions.
- Listen to people and don’t try to shame someone for their emotions. Everyone is entirely to their own feelings and thoughts, so just listen to them and validate their concerns. No one person deals with an issue in the exact same way.
- Recognise toxic positivity and understand that it’s not normal to be that way. Messages that highlight issues such as positive vibes, and remember that anything that condones negative emotions is toxic.
- You can be wary of social media and step away from it. Instagram, Facebook and all the other social media sites only really show the positives in their life and display their life as a highlight reel rather than reality. No one is living a fully positive lifestyle – everyone cries.
- Feelings aren’t mutually exclusive to one single thing. You can be sad about losing your job but be hopeful for a career change. Healthy positivity is to acknowledge authentic emotions rather than hiding the negatives.
POSITIVE VIBES AREN’T ALWAYS THE BEST
There is nothing wrong with promoting positivity, but make sure that you aren’t repressing someone’s emotions. If you are feeling down, then embrace that feeling. You can only move on and become happier, by moving through all the negativity. If someone is promoting toxic positivity, then maybe set a boundary and step back.
Don’t force yourself to struggle, if you are needing some guidance – the NHS website has so much help and support for mental health.
Words by Charlie Vogelsang