When it comes to personal well-being, it’s essential to have a positive outlook on life. However, there is such a thing as being overly optimistic – or toxic positivity. This behavior can be detrimental not only to our mental health but that to the people around us. In this post, we’ll delve into some common examples of toxic positivity so that you can identify and avoid these behaviors in your everyday life for better emotional well-being for both yourself and those around you. So let’s begin!
Toxic Positivity Examples
Belittling and minimizing emotions
Toxic positivity is a concept within mental health that can be highly damaging to individuals. It involves disregarding difficult emotions, such as fear and anger, with empty platitudes. Instead of recognizing and validating difficult emotions, the individual is told to “look on the bright side” or “think positively.”
This denies their experience and belittles their feelings, which often leads to further feelings of discontent and isolation. Mental health professionals recommend people use a more balanced approach when working through emotional issues – validation and acceptance mixed with strategies for problem-solving.
Ignoring personal boundaries
Ignoring personal boundaries is an example of the phenomenon known as ‘toxic positivity’ – where somebody pushes someone else to constantly be positive to avoid addressing deeper, more complex issues. This distorted version of positivity can be incredibly damaging rather than supportive because they dismiss someone’s real feelings by forcing them into a constant cheerful mindset.
Toxic positivity causes people to ignore unhealthy situations, overlook what is necessary to address their problems fully and struggle with emotions. We must remember that sometimes pain and sadness should be acknowledged and addressed.
Pressuring someone to be positive
Toxic positivity takes healthy positivity to the next level, where individuals are always expected to be vibrant and energetic – no matter the circumstances. In situations requiring genuine empathy and understanding, toxic positivity will provide none.
It’s focused solely on an overtly optimistic attitude, and pressuring someone to stay positive can be detrimental to their mental health, leaving them feeling even more isolated than before. Negative emotions should be embraced instead of shamed, and people should be reminded that perfection is not always achievable or desirable.
Guilting someone for feeling negative emotion
Guilting someone for having a negative emotion is an unhealthy form of toxic positivity. It focuses on only having and expressing positive feelings while avoiding the natural feelings of vulnerability, fear, and sadness that arise in times of difficulty. This kind of artificial positivity can be damaging to both personal growth and relationships, as it perpetuates the idea that certain emotions are ‘wrong’ or unwelcome, hindering connection between people.
It may seem helpful, but suggesting this behavior is ultimately a disservice to those feeling negative emotions; being kind and gentle when facing difficult situations is far more beneficial in the long run.
Focusing on the positives without acknowledging the negatives
Toxic positivity is a dangerous form of idealism that encourages people to stay focused on the positive aspects of life while ignoring or grossly downplaying the unpleasant ones. Rather than recognizing and validating someone’s struggles, toxic positivity discredits and invalidates their feelings by suggesting that they should remain undeterred from the drawbacks of life in favor of savoring the positives.
This behavior contrasts with genuine positivity, which acknowledges all facets of reality, both joyous and dismal, normalizes emotions, and invites a meaningful dialogue about how best to find strength even when faced with adversity.
Claiming that everything happens for a reason
Claims that everything happens for a reason can be seen as toxic positivity. This mentality attempts to force uncomfortable and painful feelings into an easily digestible idea by implying that all good and bad events are part of a larger plan or have some greater purpose.
In reality, many difficult moments cannot be rationalized or explained away, and this coping mechanism can create more stress by inducing guilt when life feels overwhelming. At the same time, it is vital to find a healthy way to persevere and think positively during hard times; however, this does not mean invalidating one’s experience or pretending all unpleasantness has been predetermined for the greater good.
Saying, “it’s all good,” instead of providing actual support
Toxic positivity is a sad reality in many social situations today. The idea of “it’s all good” or “think positive” might seem reasonable on the surface, but in practice, it tends to diminish negative experiences. It can be destructive for those dealing with physical or mental illnesses.
Instead of listening and providing compassionate and realistic support, these stark affirmations force people to put aside their true feelings and struggle alone with whatever issues they have. While we should still strive to be optimistic, we must recognize the limitations of this attitude, especially when it prevents us from adequately caring for those who need it most.
Holding yourself to unrealistic standards of “happiness”
Toxic positivity is a dangerous mentality that societies often fall into. It’s the idea that you should hold yourself to incredibly high standards of emotion, particularly tied to happiness and other positive outcomes. However, this kind of mindset can have a damaging impact by making it difficult for people to accept and process difficult emotions such as sadness and anger in a healthy way.
This leaves individuals feeling even more overwhelmed, frustrated, and powerless when life doesn’t turn out the way they hope it will and can lead to further mental health issues down the line. Taking a step back from this kind of toxic positivity and recognizing that it’s okay not always to be happy is beneficial for everyone in the long run.
Comparing yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others can be an incredibly damaging exercise. It can lead to unhealthy and often unrealistic expectations that leave you either feeling defeated or attempting to live up to standards that are not your own. This example of toxic positivity disregards negative emotions, experiences, and difficult situations by emphasizing optimism and positivity without adequately addressing the issue.
Toxic positivity overlooks the reality of complex human emotions, leading to self-deception that prevents us from understanding our feelings and harms our relationships with others as we begin to base our lives around pretense and performance.
Saying that “life is short,” implying a need to be merry all the time
Toxic positivity tells people to ignore the bad and focus on being overly positive, which inevitably leads to great suffering. When someone says that “life is short,” implying that one should be in a state of perpetual optimism, it may appear life-affirming but ignores the full range of emotions we experience and can invite unhappiness.
In reality, life is a mixture of highs and lows – all of which need to be felt to live a meaningful life truly. Actual well-being comes from accepting, not ignoring, every emotional experience so they can be healed and transformed into something powerful.
Assuming everyone is in the same emotional state as you are
Even when we may not feel okay, appearing fine can be detrimental. When everyone around us is being upbeat, despite our actual emotional state, it can lead to increased feelings of distress. Allowing ourselves and others around us to recognize and accept that sometimes things are just not okay is much healthier than assuming everyone is in the same emotional state as you are – this is an example of toxic positivity.
Toxic positivity won’t help people get through hard times; instead, it can leave them feeling worse about their feelings rather than better off for expressing them.
Ignoring your feelings and emotions
Toxic positivity occurs when someone always suppresses their feelings and emotions to put a positive spin on every situation. While at first glance, this may appear as if someone is overly optimistic and encouraging, it shuts down anyone struggling emotionally.
Ignoring your feelings to stay cheerful denies the very essence of what makes us human – the ability to have a wide range of emotions, from happiness to sadness. When people are encouraged to ignore their pain, they often suffer long-term psychological issues that can be hard to address later.
Toxic positivity can be damaging to individuals and their relationships. It is essential to recognize that it’s okay not always to be happy and that life is made up of highs and lows – all of which need to be felt to live a meaningful life truly. Ignoring your feelings won’t make them disappear; learning how to cope with and process difficult emotions is essential to a more well-rounded and fulfilling life.