Raihan defines toxic positivity and explores exactly why it's toxic.
The last thing a person wants to hear when they’re feeling sad is another person telling them “don’t be sad and cheer up," as if it’s not the thing they wish they could do at the very moment. I am not trying to spread negativity here, but do you know what’s worst than negativity? It’s toxic positivity.
If you Google toxic positivity, the first definition of it is having the mindset of thinking only positively towards everything no matter the situation. The millennials call it the “positive vibes only” approach to everything in life. Well, it’s not bad to have a positive outlook towards life in general, but there are times when we will just experience some negative emotions, and that’s just us being human.
I’ll briefly explain why the “positive vibes only” approach to life is more detrimental than healing to a lot of people. Toxic positivity can be bad for a person’s mental health because this mindset dismisses any types of feelings and emotions that are not positive, such as feeling sad, depressed, lonely, trapped, etc. This “positive vibes only” mindset forces people who struggle with the so-called negative emotions to put on a happy face and fake a smile for the world, while suppressing their true emotions and thoughts. Their feelings are brushed off. Negative feelings should not be expressed because, well… they are negative? How ironic!
Especially in this current pandemic era, toxic positivity can be detrimental to mental health. Everyone is in the racing game of displaying to the world that they are at their most productive and positive self every day, when in fact, on some days, we just need to have some time off and be lazy. We are, after all, humans who feel emotions that can either be positive, neutral, or negative at different phases of our lives.
"Find the source of the negative emotions, and find ways to solve it effectively, not positively."
To be able to deal with this type of mindset, identifying it is equally crucial too. According to a psychology blog, toxic positivity is when a person tries to hide their true feelings and just “get on with it.” That person will knowingly dismiss their own emotions, feel guilty for feeling negative, and brush aside others’ experiences with “feel good” statements.
Having said all that, what should we really do instead of applying the toxic positivity mentality towards negative emotions? A healthier approach in dealing with negative emotions is, by first, to acknowledge the emotions that you are feeling and any experiences you are facing. Make peace with whatever you are feeling at the moment, and then try to approach the problem effectively. Find the source of the negative emotions, and find ways to solve it effectively, not positively. Seek help if you must. And finally, make peace with your own body and mind.
It’s okay to not be okay. And it’s definitely okay to say that you’re not okay!