We are constantly being told that we need to be positive. We need to see the good in every situation and find the silver lining. While there is certainly some truth to this, it's important to remember that there is also a downside to being too positive – especially if you dismiss negativity entirely. This is known as toxic positivity, and it can be very dangerous for both your mental and emotional health. In this blog post, we will discuss what toxic positivity is, why it's harmful, and how you can avoid falling into its trap.
Toxic positivity is the belief that anything negative – whether it's a feeling, situation, or experience – should be ignored, dismissed, or rewritten as something positive. This might sound harmless at first, but toxic positivity can actually have some very dangerous consequences. For one, it can prevent you from dealing with your problems in a healthy way. If you're constantly telling yourself to "just be positive," you're not giving yourself the opportunity to process your negative emotions. This can lead to them becoming bottled up inside of you, which can eventually lead to anxiety and depression. Additionally, toxic positivity can cause you to become disconnected from reality. If you're only ever looking on the bright side of things, you might start to believe that the world is a perfect place – which, of course, it isn't. This can lead to feelings of disappointment and disillusionment when you inevitably encounter negativity in your life. Finally, toxic positivity can be harmful to your relationships. If you're always putting on a brave face and pretending like everything is okay, you're not giving your friends or family the opportunity to support you through tough times. This can make them feel like they can't rely on you, and it can ultimately damage your bond.
So how do you avoid falling into the trap of toxic positivity? First, it's important to be aware of its existence. If you catch yourself telling yourself (or others) to "just be positive," take a step back and ask yourself why you're saying that. Is it because you genuinely want the person to feel better, or is it because you're trying to avoid your own negative emotions? If it's the latter, then that's a red flag. Second, don't be afraid to embrace your negativity. It's okay to feel sad, angry, scared, or any other emotion – and it's important to allow yourself to experience those feelings rather than push them away. Lastly, remember that life is full of both positive and negative experiences. You can't have one without the other, and that's okay. Embrace the good times, but don't be afraid to deal with the bad times too.
Do you struggle with toxic positivity? What tips do you have for avoiding it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
by Zachary Dodson, MA, CCHt, LMHC
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