Wednesday, October 25, 2023


Toxic Positivity: When “Stay Positive” Gets in the Way

Life is a mix of ups and downs, and it's important to approach it with both positivity and authenticity.

By Avni Ved

Friday, October 20, 2023

You’ve likely heard or said one of the following statements in your life: “Stay positive”, “Look at the brighter side”, “Good vibes only”, etc. However, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows; it’s more like a rollercoaster, with exhilarating highs and challenging lows. We all want to stay hopeful, but it’s essential to know the difference between genuine optimism and what some call “toxic positivity”.

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Understanding Toxic Positivity

Toxic positivity is when we try to brush off negative emotions or experiences, often by insisting on positive thinking. It’s like putting a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches. For example, when you share a tough day with a friend, and they respond with, “Look at the brighter side,” it’s well-intentioned but may not always provide the support you truly need.

Some of the Consequences of Toxic Positivity:

  1. Emotion Invalidation: It dismisses genuine emotions, making people feel unheard and unsupported.
  2. Suppression of Negative Feelings: Encourages the avoidance or suppression of negative emotions, potentially leading to emotional issues.
  3. Strained Relationships: Can damage relationships by creating a lack of genuine connection and understanding.
  4. Failure to Address Real Problems: Avoiding difficult conversations hinders problem-solving and personal growth.
  5. Increased Stress: Puts pressure on people to pretend they’re fine, causing additional stress.
  6. Lack of Growth: Hinders personal growth and learning by avoiding adversity and challenges.
  7. Unrealistic Expectations: Sets unrealistic standards for how people should feel or act, leading to a sense of failure.

Discovering Authentic Positivity

Authentic positivity is about finding joy, purpose, and meaning while acknowledging life’s complexities – both the good and the challenging. It’s not about ignoring reality or pretending everything is perfect. Instead, it’s saying, “Things are hard right now, but I have the power to choose how I respond.”

In difficult times, it’s important to remember that while we can’t always control external circumstances, we can always choose our attitude and response. This means acknowledging that sometimes life is chaotic and senseless but finding ways to create value from the mess.

Supporting Loved Ones

When someone you care about is going through a tough time, it’s crucial to offer genuine support, empathy and understanding. 

Acknowledge the Challenges: Instead of saying, “Look at the brighter side,” try, “It’s okay to admit things are tough. Let’s work through them together.”

Validating Feelings: Instead of dismissing feelings with, “Others have it worse than you,” say, “Your feelings are valid. Let’s focus on what helps you feel better.”

Encourage Expression: Avoid telling someone to “stop being negative.” Instead, say, “It’s okay to express your concerns. We can address them together.”

Open Conversations: Instead of saying, “It’s all in your mind,” offer, “Let’s talk about what’s bothering you and how we can work through it.”

In conclusion, life is a mix of ups and downs, and it’s important to approach it with both positivity and authenticity. So, let’s cherish our hearts, offer kindness to ourselves and others, and find hope not just in the sunshine but in the rain too.