Toxic positivity is the belief that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. It’s a “good vibes only” approach to life. And while there are benefits to being an optimist and engaging in positive thinking, toxic positivity instead rejects difficult emotions in favor of a cheerful, often falsely positive, facade.

Why is it dangerous and risky?

Ignoring real harm: A generally positive outlook is not harmful. However, a person who believes that they must only be positive may ignore serious problems or not address underlying mental health issues.

Communication issues: Similarly, people who demand positivity from others may offer insufficient support or make loved ones feel stigmatized and judged. This approach can destroy communicationand the ability to solve problems.

It can demeane a loss: Grief and sadness are normal in the face of loss. A person who repeatedly hears messages to move on or be happy might feel as though others do not care about their loss.

Shaming: When someone is suffering, they need to know that their emotions are valid, but that they can find relief and love in their friends and family. Toxic positivity tells people that the emotions they are feeling are unacceptable.

Low self-esteem: Toxic positivity encourages people to ignore their negative emotions, even though stifling them can make them feel even more powerful. When a person is unable to feel positive, they may feel as though they are failing.

It prevents growth: It allows us to avoid feeling things that might be painful, but it also denies us the ability to face challenging feelings that can ultimately lead to growth and deeper insight.

“Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.”

Mark Manson

Author: Dimitar Yonov

Mindromeda is an online mental health and wellbeing platform. It connects you with specialists from different fields, that are connected either directly or indirectly to mental health issues.

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