It’s important to have a positive outlook in life, especially with this pandemic looming over our immediate future. But like with most things, too much of something is never a good idea, even positivity, yes you’ve read that right.
It’s easy to let yourself be consumed with all the bad things happening lately. Fuck 2020, right?
Just a quick glance at your TV is enough to dampen your mood. With the insanity all around us, it’s more convenient to just look the other way and fend off negative thoughts and emotions. This is where toxic positivity comes into play.
These negative emotions are complex, that is why we find it easier to just let them slide, or heck even ignore them. But, in the essence of sanity being kept in place, we do need to understand that feeling these things are normal.
It’s okay to feel something other than happiness. The world isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
What is Toxic Positivity?
In this digital age, posts on social media about “staying positive” and “having a positive outlook” are one too many. Being optimistic can be helpful especially during this time, but too much of it can actually be harmful.
The term “toxic positivity” gets thrown around a lot nowadays, but what does it really mean?
According to The Psychology Group,
Toxic Positivity is the overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state that results in the denial, minimization and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.
It means focusing solely on positive things and ignoring, or worse, flat out rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, actually I don’t, BUT I can’t stress this enough, being overly optimistic can have negative ramifications. Not just to you, but also to the people around you.
Even if you actively avoid your more difficult emotions, they don’t automatically go away. These things pile up, and there will come a time when you reach your breaking point because you cannot take it anymore. This is when you’ll realize that emotional pain can actually physically hurt. And trust me, this hurt won’t be limited to you.
Avoiding these emotions means they remain unprocessed, and over time these seemingly insignificant feelings become bigger and more complicated.
I know we run away from these emotions because they are certainly more complicated than just being “happy”. It is scary and tricky. Some of you may be afraid that if you were to accept that you’re actually unhappy, you’ll go down a point of no return; this holds some truth to some if left unfaced but more often we can’t help but romanticize such a state; we are left to believe that denying something that is actually real is a good thing when in fact it creates a silo of surrealism that if left unchecked creates more harm than good.
I guess we are just drawn to the idea that being unhappy is all bad, when in fact, it isn’t — dwelling on it is, but facing unhappiness and brokenness is actually the first step towards recovery and healing. And if we do not face it, and we kept on assuming a state of positivity, we are actually removing that one real chance for us to recover and heal.
What do I do then?
Learning to accept and acknowledge a different range of negative emotions decrease their effect on us and it actually helps in coping. Talking and processing through your emotions, especially the negative ones, feels like getting a load off your chest. I know it is more difficult than just pretending everything is fine, but it is infinitely more beneficial in the long run.
Sometimes, there are no silver linings to be found in a situation. It just is the way that it is. And you have to accept that. Not everything exists to make us feel good all the time.
While it may be helpful to try and look on the bright side, it’s important to validate your emotions when they’re being unpleasant. Processing your more complex feelings is quite difficult, but ultimately, necessary.
How are you feeling?
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