There is absolutely no denying right now that the hype around positivity, self-love and personal development is huge, and for good reason!
We’re more aware of our own mental health demons and with modern day life being such a ever increasing minefield, we need to build up that positivity muscle!
I’m forever sharing how Personal Development has literally changed the game for me. I recently shared some of the books I credit to having an impact on that in my post Personal Development & Mindset Books to up-level your life!
But that’s not to say I didn’t struggle with it at times!
Toxic Positivity: what is it?
I’d go to events and read books, where I’d feel like I was just being told to think positive ALL of the time:
If something good happens, be grateful and think positive!
If something bad happens, it’s for the greater good so think positive!
If you’re having a mediocre time, think positive and it will improve!
And this ladies and gents, is what’s known as Toxic Positivity!
Psychology Today defines Toxic Positivity as the concept that keeping positive, and keeping positive only, is the right way to live your life. It means only focusing on positive things and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions.
Now, there is something to be said about being able to see the positives in life. However, you also need to experience and be in tune to all of your feelings and all of lifes up’s and down’s.
Without feeling the low’s or feeling pain, as awful as they can be, we would never appreciate the highs and the good without them. As with everything, it’s about balance!
It’s legitimately impossible to be positive 100% of the time. And more to the point, it’s downright unhealthy!!
You’ll see me sharing a lot about seeing the good in situations, and trying to uncover the lessons where possible, but at the same time, I highlight my struggles and my down days because there needs to be balance in life.
How else can it show up?
The other way we can participate in Toxic Positivity can be in the forms of how we give advice to others, or how we go about being supportive.
Say for example a friend has been struggling with finding a new role recently. They’ve been applying to everything, getting nowhere and really starting to feel shitty about the whole process.
Then you come along, with your secure job, regular income and unimpacted life and tell them how ‘It’s all going to be fine’, ‘Something will come up soon’ and to just ‘Stay positive’ 🙃
Can you see how triggering that may be to someone who is finding the exact opposite?
What may be more beneficial is to understand their circumstances better, offer to pass their CV to your own HR Department and to seek ways in which you can assist in their search!
We need to be aware of our own ways of deflecting and minimising other people’s feelings in order to protect our own.
Toxic Positivity can also be used to mask other things; such as what you’re truly feeling.
If things have got tough, but you want to maintain to your outside world that everythings OK, you may cover up these feelings with enhanced levels of positivity.
As a way to downplay the pain, or perhaps shame, that you may be feeling, it’s not uncommon to be more positive than ever so as not to share what’s going on inside, or even as a way to feel like you’re not bringing others down.
Suppressing your emotions can lead to stress and physical reactions within the body so it is far better to unleash whatever it is that you’re feeling and start to deal with it piece by piece as you may find that it’s actually easier to deal with than you imagined!
If you are particularly struggling with this , it’s worth connecting with the guys at Mind. They’re available for support to help you move forward.
How can we manage it?
Learning to manage our feelings plays a big part in this too.
We’re becoming conditioned to believe that any form of negative feeling relates to a mental health issue.
The slightest bit of anxiety and we’re self-diagnosing! Plot twist: anxiety is a totally normal reaction! When we feel we’re under threat or we feel worried, tense or afraid, anxiety kicks in.
It’s when your anxiety starts having a major impact on your life that it then becomes an issue. If it starts to become a regular occurrence then it should be looked into.
But feeling anxious, stressed, concerned about your future etc., is all totally normal and shouldn’t be buried in positive emotions.
Trying to unravel the root cause of the problem and how you can resolve it will go further than covering it up with fake positivity.
If you are feeling like this and want to find ways to get some clarity, you could try:
- Journaling what you’re feeling
- Writing out your gratitude’s
- Try some self-care exercises
- Listing everything you’re feeling and putting action points with each one to make progress with it
- Talk with someone; whether that be a friend or family member, or a professional such as a Doctor, Therapist or Coach
What action can we take?
Now is a perfect time to start being super real with yourself; because it’s OK to do that and how I pretty much approach most things!
Times are hard right now! We’re spending more time on our phones, we’ve got too much time to think and theres a lot of negativity doing the rounds.
I wrote a post recently on how you can manage your social media experience which you can find here!
Now is the time for you to take complete ownership of what you consume and how you manage your feelings. Don’t get bogged down with the bullshit, because a lot of what you’re being fed right now is exactly that! But at the same time, don’t overcompensate on positivity to try and block those things out.
Just take them for what they are, form your own educated opinion and ‘file it’!
So look, I am the biggest advocate for a positive life and mindset! What I want you to understand is the difference between genuine optimism and the issues with Toxic Positivity!
Seek out the positives in all situations; even if you can’t see it immediately, there usually is something to be taken from it.
But don’t harness all other feelings and experiences in favour of only being positive!
Let me know in the comments about your experiences with Toxic Positivity and lets carry on the conversation!
Keep it real homies ✌🏽