Toxic positivity is real! Here's how you can overcome it
Toxic positivity is a belief that irrespective of how grave or dire a situation is, one should maintain a positive mindset always. This concept rejects all other emotions that don't fall into the ambit of optimism, encouraging one to paint a falsely-positive picture in their mind that is far from reality. Consequently, it leads to suppressed emotions and an inability to deal with pain.
Some day-to-day examples of toxic positivity
Ignoring a negative situation by saying "everything happens for a reason," is a classic example. Brushing off someone's grief or loss by saying "it could have been worse," is another one. Using statements like "look on the brighter side," "just stay positive," "it is not as bad as it seems," or "happiness is a choice," to move on from a negative situation is common.
Here is why toxic positivity could be potentially dangerous
Toxic positivity can blind you from dealing with the real harm. A review of 29 studies on domestic violence revealed that optimism, forgiveness, and hope can underestimate its severity and encourage people to stay in abusive relationships. Additionally, it can cause communication issues as you won't know how to accept a negative situation. Toxic positivity can make your mind ignore challenges.
Strategy 1: Don't deny or escape your real emotions
To overcome toxic positivity, it is important to accept all the emotions you are feeling in a situation. Know that it is completely human to feel stress, tension, anxiety, or fear in a negative circumstance and that you don't have to run away from them. Sit with them for a while and then shift your focus toward taking action to improve your situation.
Strategy 2: It is okay to not be okay
When you don't question happiness, why do the same with a strong urge to cry? Why is crying seen as a sign of weakness and not expression? All emotions should be deeply experienced. And to do that, one should develop an attitude that it is completely okay to not be okay. Be realistic instead of ignoring them with positive quotes from the internet.
Strategy 3: Avoid seeking a positive response to every situation
Let's face it; all of us go around seeking a positive response to every negative situation we are in. While there's nothing wrong, it becomes a way of temporary escapism. Consequently, you find yourself in a loop of pain and comfort that keep coming your way. Instead, focus on learning how to deal with the situation so that you can eliminate the root cause.
Strategy 4: Don't search for the silver lining
Do not search for the silver lining always because sometimes, there isn't really any. For instance, there isn't a silver lining to your pet passing away or you losing a job. Process your feelings about a situation, since denial prevents healing. Silver linings do not make a devastating situation better but can pull you away from making an effort to solve the problem.
Strategy 5: Steer clear of self-imposed toxic positive behavior
Change begins with the self, so it is seminal to begin recognizing and eliminating self-imposed toxic positivity. And to do that, stop perceiving negative emotions as abnormal and as something that should not stay in your life. Feel every emotion instead of constantly working around trying to escape from them. You can also seek support from a therapist to process negativity.