In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the power of positivity. From social media to self-help books, we're often told that we should strive for happiness and optimism in all aspects of our lives, that hustle mentality. While this approach can certainly be helpful in some situations, it can also become harmful when taken too far. This is what's known as toxic positivity, and it can have serious consequences for your mental health and others.
Toxic positivity is the idea that we should only focus on positive emotions and avoid anything negative. Like, avoid negativity like the plague! It's the belief that we should always look on the bright side, no matter what's going on in our lives. This might sound like a good thing, but it can be incredibly damaging when we're dealing with difficult emotions or situations.
For one thing, toxic positivity can make us feel like we're not allowed to express negative emotions. When we're told to "just be positive" or "look on the bright side," we can feel like we're not allowed to be sad, angry, or anxious. This can lead to a sense of shame and guilt around our emotions, which can make them even harder to deal with.
Toxic positivity can also make it harder to process and move through negative emotions. When we try to push away or ignore our feelings, they don't just go away. Instead, they can build up and become even more overwhelming. This can lead to a cycle of suppressing emotions, feeling overwhelmed, and then suppressing them even more.
Furthermore, toxic positivity can make it harder for us to empathize with others who are going through difficult times. When we're constantly focused on being positive, we may overlook the struggles of others or fail to provide the support they need. This can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection, which can be detrimental to our mental health.
So, what can we do to avoid toxic positivity and promote good mental health? To challenge toxic positivity, we need to cultivate a mindset that acknowledges the complexity of life and the value of all emotions, both positive and negative.
Here are five ways to do just that:
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of our thoughts and emotions without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, we can become more aware of our inner experiences and develop a greater acceptance of our emotions, including the negative ones.
Acknowledge Your Emotions: When we acknowledge our emotions, we validate our experiences and avoid suppressing them. Rather than trying to force ourselves to feel positive all the time, we can honor our emotions, recognizing that they are a natural part of the human experience.
Encourage Authentic Conversations: We can challenge toxic positivity by creating spaces where people feel safe to express their emotions openly and honestly. By encouraging authentic conversations, we can create a culture that values emotional honesty and vulnerability.
Celebrate Small Wins: It's important to celebrate progress, even if it's not always in a positive direction. By acknowledging small wins, we can encourage ourselves and others to continue to move forward, even in the face of setbacks and challenges.
Seek Support: It's essential to seek support when we're struggling. We can challenge toxic positivity by recognizing that it's okay to ask for help, whether it's from friends, family, or a mental health professional.
Just to review from the start of this post, toxic positivity can have consequences for mental health While it's important to strive for positivity and optimism in life, challenging toxic positivity can help cultivate a mindset that values all emotions and recognizes the complexity of life. By practicing mindfulness, acknowledging our emotions, encouraging authentic conversations, celebrating small wins, and seeking support when needed, we can challenge toxic positivity and promote greater well-being for ourselves and those around us.
Blog Disclaimer - These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.