A Toxic Positivity.
An attitude to deny bad feelings and accept only positive aspects of life.
We have been taught a lesson of life that no matter what goes wrong or bad, “Always stay positive”,…., “Be positive”,…, but this is not enough, we convey the same positive notion to others in their tragic and bad times. Be positive is a good thing, but what about those suffering emotions?? Sometimes those intense bad feelings go behind the mask of positivity, but these remain to exist inside us. We start hiding our depression and worries from our loved ones and friends. We don’t want to have a tag of a depressed and over-sensitive person from them even during our most crucial span of life and wear the fake positivity. With time this so-called positivity leaves scars on our souls in the shape of more depression, insecurity, and loneliness.
Do you think it is positivity? Don’t you feel the toxicity in it? Yes, it is toxic positivity, an attitude to deny bad feelings and accept only positive aspects of life.
Here I want to mention that being optimistic doesn't mean seeing the only bright side of life. Have an optimistic perception of life while embracing and understanding depressed feelings is a real positivity.
Toxic Positivity is Linked with Communication.
It's my observation that toxic positivity is linked with communication. How?? It becomes toxic when we make such statements for the sake of positivity, which give an impression of our least interest towards another person’s sufferings. I give some examples for your better understanding:
Example # 1. When someone wants to share the disappointment of life, then instead of saying “I am listening”, we comment as “just stay positive”. In this way, our toxic positivity discourages the sharing process and we let that person alone with his/her problem.
Example # 2. Instead of listening to a friend’s trauma of life, we show the gesture of “good vibes only” rather than saying “I am here no matter what”.
Example # 3. “It could be worse”, we generally use these wordings when we come to know about our loved one’s accidents or details of tough times. Instead of uttering toxic positivity, we could say: “That must be very hard".
Example # 4. “Things happen for the reason”, we usually listen to such type of statements by our loved ones on our loss. Just think about it; there is a person who is already facing the harsh realities of life and people also make him realize the bitterness, would not it be a toxic positivity?? “That must be hard” or "your feelings are valid" such type of statements could be used as an alternative that shows some understanding of what a suffering person is going through.
Example # 5. On other's failure, we become so realistic by saying “failure is not an option”. Other than this if we say that “failure is a part of life”. You can feel the difference between both statements, can’t you?
Example # 6. And similarly, instead of making a statement like “happiness is a choice” on someone’s depression and worries, we could alternate it as “sometimes bad things happen, how can I help?”.
Now you can see from the examples that our selection of words is significant as they have an impact on someone’s sufferings.
Approaches to Avoid toxic positivity.
If you are feeling guilty about being sad, and hiding true feelings for the sake of feel-good quotes then you are being victimized by toxic positivity. Whereas you become a part of it when your statements fail to help your friend in pain and your friend feels ashamed for not having a positive attitude over his/ her hard time. In both cases, we should recognize ourselves, either we are a victim or a part of a toxic positivity.
So, we can avoid this attitude through these supportive approaches:
1. Deal with your negative emotions without denying them. If you are feeling anxiety or depression then don’t let it uncheck.
2. Have stress over a problematic situation is quite normal. If you lose a job and you are stressed over it, then there is nothing wrong. You are a human being, not a positive programming robot.
3. Have a mixture of feelings is natural. When you are having challenges in life, then you might be afraid, curious, and hopeful at the same time. Having a good and bad vibe together does not mean that you are not able to see the positive side of a situation.
4. Be supportive of others in their difficult times. Listen to what they want to share and communicate with them in a way that they don’t feel regret after sharing their problem with you.
Life is about ups and downs. Having a bright sight for a situation with the acceptance of realities is true positivity. Tear off the mask of toxic positivity and help yourself and your loved ones with the understanding of ongoing emotions.
How do you tackle toxic positivity? Share your strategies with me in the below section.
Thanks for reading :)