We’re taught our entire lives to be positive to the best of our ability. When we see the glass half full, we are more likely to manifest our dreams and desires, right? Of course, choosing positivity when possible is always the best decision. It can boost your mood, help you develop skills, and improve your overall work performance. However, as the old adage goes, “everything in moderation.” That includes your commitment to positivity.
Although there is something to be said for always seeing the better side of things, there is a dark side to toxic positivity, too.
What is Toxic Positivity?
Toxic positivity is defined as an excessive and over-the-top generalization of happy response to all situations. This can cause a person to be in denial, minimize the gravity of a situation, and invalidate the human emotion and response. It can poison a person’s personal life, as well as hurt those closest to us when we diminish their reality.
When anything exceeds moderation, it becomes toxic. A little bit of ice cream here and there is fine for your health – but if you eat an entire gallon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’re going to have some health problems. If you disavow the way you feel and respond to situations in your life, and only wear the “positive” mask no matter what, you are going to miss out on the growth and development that comes from embracing the negative at times.
We are all humans at the end of the day. We feel jealousy, anger, hurt, betrayal, and resentment. Humans are flawed, and pretending we are not creates an alternate reality that will slowly pull you out of what’s really happening.
So how can you, first, identify if you are donning this kind of toxic positivity (without even realizing it)? Here are a few signs:
Hiding your true feelings to seem positive
Feeling guilty for being unhappy
Ignoring your feelings to “just get on with it”
Minimizing other people’s feelings/pressuring them to be happier
Providing hurtful advice that diminishes someone else’s unhappiness
Shaming others for feeling badly
Saying “it is what it is” instead of facing true feelings
Why is Toxic Positivity… Toxic?
When you live life in ignorant bliss, it can take a toll on your health. This kind of positivity can cause you to feel ashamed for feeling sad, depressed, unhappy, jealous, and angry. It can make you start to “hate” yourself and speak to yourself negatively. This causes a disconnect in your thoughts and makes it harder for you to know yourself.
Additionally, toxic positivity creates suppressed emotions, which can manifest itself in poor health, difficulty communication, and alienation. Even worse, suppressed emotions can manifest as anxiety and depression, or even a physical illness like chronic pain.
Your body regulates systems every day to keep you happy and stabilized. One of those systems is the processing of your environment, the feeling of emotion, the crying to let it all out, and the reality of what’s going on. When you block that feedback loop, it manifests in mental and physical health problems.
It’s ok to not be ok all of the time. Keep your toxic positivity in check when possible.