What Toxic Positivity Is and Why It Is Bad for You

Having a positive outlook on life can be a healthy thing that helps you get through hard times. However, positivity can also be toxic, if it’s insincere and you’re suppressing your real emotions. And that can harm your emotional and mental state.

We at Bright Side think positive vibes are good, but in moderation. So we’d like to tell you about when they can actually do you more harm than good.

Social media is one of the main sources of the problem.

On social media, people like to appear perfect and share only one side of their life most of the time. Their worries, struggles, and difficult feelings don`t usually make it on there and stay hidden in their real life. It could also be harmless-looking motivational posts or something as simple as, “Positive vibes only!” or “Don`t worry, be happy!”

You start to hide your emotions, and that can be harmful.

When you see posts that only show happy people that are always cheerful about their lives, even though that might not be how they really feel, you might feel pressured to appear the same. So you put a mask on and try to make it look like everything’s going great in your life, and like you’re not emotionally affected by the difficulties you’ve been going through.

And if you don’t do that, you might even start feeling shame that you’re letting yourself feel sad, anxious, unmotivated, or distressed. You look at all those positive people and see their cheerfulness as a sign of power, and feel weak if you let yourself feel “negative” emotions. So you hide them and try not to think about them.

It’s understandable to think that something like that will help make the situation better, but in reality, it only makes things worse. Hiding your real emotions and not dealing with your problems can actually lead to more stress, anxiety, and depression.

Sometimes people mean well, but end up hurting us instead.

Our friends and family want to help us and cheer us up, but it can be difficult to find the right words. So they might say what others usually say, like “Just stay positive!” or “It could be worse,” and become one more source of toxic positivity in your life.

What they could say instead, that would actually sound helpful and understanding, are things like, “I see that you’re really stressed, is there anything I can do?” or “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” The important thing is to not minimize someone’s suffering or invalidate their emotions, but let them feel whatever they’re feeling, even if it’s hard, and support them.

Remember that feelings don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

You might feel pressure to only feel positive emotions. And if you don’t, you might think your only option is to just feel pain, stress, or anything else that’s seen as negative. However, you can experience both positive and negative feelings at the same time.

For example, if you’ve lost your job, it’s understandable to feel frustrated and anxious about whether you’ll be able to find a new job or not. And you could encounter some toxic positivity if everyone around you says stuff like, “At least you have your family and good health,” or “Everything happens for a reason. Now you’ve got a lot of new opportunities!”

And feeling just one way or the other about what you’re going through could be overwhelming. But it’s possible to balance it out and feel both frustrated about what happened and excited about the future at the same time.

Do you ever feel pressured to stay positive no matter what? Is it because of social media or does someone you know personally make you feel this way? How do you deal with it?

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