Toxic positivity is a concept that has gained a lot of attention in recent years, especially in the context of mental health and wellness. It refers to the belief that one should only focus on positive emotions and experiences, while ignoring or suppressing negative ones.
At first glance, this might sound like a good thing – after all, who doesn’t want to be positive and happy all the time? However, toxic positivity can be harmful because it denies the reality of human emotions and experiences. It can make people feel guilty or ashamed for experiencing negative emotions, and it can prevent them from seeking help when they need it.
Toxic positivity can come from anyone – friends, family members, coworkers, even mental health professionals. It’s often well-intentioned, coming from a desire to help others feel better. However, it can be damaging because it dismisses or minimizes the struggles that people are going through.
For example, imagine someone has just lost their job. A friend might say, “Oh, don’t worry about it! Everything happens for a reason, and I’m sure you’ll find something even better soon.” While this statement might be meant to be comforting, it dismisses the very real emotions that the person is experiencing. They may be feeling sad, angry, frustrated, or anxious about their situation, and being told to simply “look on the bright side” can make them feel like their feelings aren’t valid.
Another example might be someone who is struggling with depression. A well-meaning family member might say, “Just cheer up! You have so much to be grateful for!” While gratitude can be helpful in managing symptoms of depression, this statement again dismisses the very real pain and suffering that the person is experiencing. It can make them feel like their depression is their fault or that they should be able to just snap out of it.
So, how can positivity be considered toxic? The key is in the way it is presented. Positivity can be helpful and healthy, but it becomes toxic when it is used to dismiss or minimize negative emotions and experiences.
There are a few potential causes of toxic positivity. One is the cultural pressure to always be happy and successful. We live in a society that values positivity and success, and we’re often told that we should be able to “manifest” our desires through positive thinking alone. This can create a sense of shame or inadequacy for those who are struggling with negative emotions or experiences.
Another cause of toxic positivity is a lack of empathy or understanding. It can be difficult to sit with someone who is in pain, especially if we haven’t experienced that pain ourselves. In an effort to make them feel better, we might offer platitudes or cliches that we think will be comforting, without considering how the person is actually feeling.
The effects of toxic positivity can be wide-ranging. For those who are on the receiving end of it, it can create feelings of isolation, shame, or guilt. They may feel like their emotions aren’t valid or that they’re not allowed to express them. This can lead to further mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.
On the other hand, those who display toxic positivity may also suffer. They may feel like they’re failing at their attempts to help others, or they may feel overwhelmed by the pressure to always be positive. In some cases, they may even be using positivity as a way to avoid dealing with their own negative emotions or experiences.
So, what can we do to combat toxic positivity? The key is to cultivate empathy and understanding. We need to recognize that negative emotions and experiences are a natural part of being human, and that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.
We can validate the emotions and experiences of others by simply listening to them without judgment, and by acknowledging that their feelings are real and valid. We can also encourage them to seek help if they need it, and support them in finding the resources they need to feel better.
Another important step is to practice self-awareness. We can check in with ourselves and make sure that our own attempts to be positive are not coming at the expense of others’ emotions. If we notice ourselves dismissing or minimizing someone else’s pain, we can take a step back and try to approach the situation with more empathy and understanding.
It’s also important to recognize that positivity and happiness are not always the ultimate goals. It’s okay to experience a range of emotions, and sometimes the most growth and learning can come from our struggles and challenges. By embracing the full range of human emotions and experiences, we can cultivate a deeper sense of empathy, connection, and resilience.
Τoxic positivity is a real issue that can have serious consequences for mental health and well-being. By cultivating empathy, understanding, and self-awareness, we can combat this phenomenon and create a more supportive and compassionate culture. Remember, it’s okay to not be okay sometimes, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Επιμέλεια κειμένου: Nikól Peri