Toxic Positivity: Why it’s Negative

Toxic positivity views negative emotions – like sadness, anxiety, worry and disappointment – as bad rather than just part of our human existence.

Toxic positivity is essentially the excessive and useless pushing of a happy, optimistic state across all situations. This process of toxic positivity results in the denial, hushing and invalidation of the human emotions like sadness, anxiety, worry and disappointment

When positivity is used in excess to cover up or brush-off the human experience, it becomes toxic. By silencing the existence of the aforementioned feelings, we fall into a state of denial and repressed emotions. For a lot of people, the ‘fake it till you make it’  approach leads them to pretend that they are feeling “positive vibes all day” and denying the existing sorrow emotions

Image result for hiding pain

As Mark Manson, author of the famous The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life puts it: 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.”

“Don’t think about it, stay positive!”

“Everything will work out in the end.”

Had a bad day at work? At least you have a job!

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Hate your flat? At least you’re not homeless!

“It could be worse.”

The notion of toxic positivity revolves around the belief that one should maintain a positive mindset regardless of how miserable they might be or how terrible situations are. In such times, we often- almost all the time- encounter people telling us to “stay positive,” “look on the bright side,” and “positive vibes only” when something bad happens. Regardless of the intent, these statements are extremely invalidating and should not be tolerated because they tend to spread toxic positivity by silencing our authentic emotions. The attempt toward positivity can become toxic when the individual begins to feel:

  1. the need to hide their true feelings
  2. that their genuine feelings are being dismissed
  3. blamed for having negative emotions
  4. feeling guilty for feeling what they feel

Toxic positivity is an unhelpful coping mechanism because the more we conceal our feelings, the worse and more unstable we will eventually feel.

Without actually facing and processing these negative emotions, we suppress those feelings, which leads to mental distress consequently resulting in difficulties with sleep, appetite loss or gain, substance abuse, stress, depression, and anxiety.

Optimism is a state of mind that is supposed to come naturally. If you notice yourself spreading toxic positivity, it’s imperative to genuinely apologise for being invalidating. It is essential to think about the other person from their shoes, what do you imagine would happen if you didn’t have that defence.

The truth is you cannot make someone feel happy by telling them to cheer up or to think about the good things in life. Just as headaches and other medical conditions cannot be healed without proper treatment, you cannot mend heartache and grief with memes. When people tell you how they feel, often all they need is to be listened to and to feel validated. Instead of spreading toxic positivity, we should normalise the notion that all feelings are normal – not just the happy ones.

About Us:

Runway Pakistan is a complete solution provider for all your marketing communications related requirements. The ultimate hub of infotainment – Runway composes of all the key offerings – Monthly Print Magazine, Digital Magazine, Media Production, Creative Agency, PR Agency, and Marketing Consultancy that a brand needs to be seen, heard, and known!

Like and follow our Facebook page:
Runway Pakistan

Read our previous article:

Green Line Buses to Operate in Karachi by August