We are surrounded with everything about being “positive”, having a “positive” mindset and losing negativity. There are memes everywhere and positivity pushers all around us. It’s become the solution to all our problems – be positive and you’ll attract everything good in your life. But, is all this “positivity” screwing with our mental health? Is it a good thing or has it gone out of hand … has positivity actually become toxic?
What is toxic positivity anyway? According to this source, “toxic positivity is an obsession with positive thinking. It is the belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences, even those that are profoundly tragic. Toxic positivity can silence negative emotions, demean grief, and make people feel under pressure to pretend to be happy even when they are struggling.” Essentially, positivity turns toxic when it leaves the realm of reality and steps into a place of fantasy where one suppresses their true feelings to put on a brave face not only for themselves but for the world, never dealing with what was wrong in the first place.
There really isn’t anything wrong with positivity itself but as long as it is balanced with reality. We should feel comfortable enough in our challenges that we don’t brush them under our pristine rug. Life isn’t neat and tidy, neither should our emotions be. Owning our feelings and dealing with what we need to deal with leads to personal growth. Allowing ourselves to feel what we need to feel also helps us learn to express our feelings and not be ashamed of them which is good for our mental health. It’s not easy but we’re all works in progress.
One aspect of positivity that IS important is gratitude. Having an attitude of gratitude is an essential part of life but it is a process. You can see life as more positive by being grateful where you’re at and with what you have because it brings you peace with your reality which in turn helps you complain less. I am a big fan of gratitude journals. If we start or end the day with writing things down that we’re grateful for it changes our outlook on life. It can also change your life. It did mine and I’m starting the process with my kids too.
There have also been numerous studies proving the benefits of positive thinking. Essentially, those who could visualize positive outcomes to their challenges had less anxiety and worry about future events, regardless of what happened which improved their mental and physical health. It was also found that those who have a more positive attitude about life come across as more confident and, ultimately, were more likable which can benefit you in multiple ways and situations – work, social, romantic, family, etc.
When dealing with others who are dealing with challenges, it’s important to listen to them and meet them where they’re at. Holding their hand and acknowledging how they’re feeling rather than forcing positivity on them. I’m not saying don’t try and help them see a silver lining or a possible positive outcome or something to be grateful for, let them get there on their own without dismissing how they are feeling by telling them to see things positively.
In the end, while life can be craptastic, according to experts, having a positive attitude rather than ‘stinking thinking’ “can be good for well-being, as long as we’re not using it to avoid or suppress negative emotions“. So definitely try and look on the bright side of life and look for the lesson or good in any negative events, but own your feelings and deal with whatever you need to deal with because remember you are “stronger than your storm“. Start with gratitude and go from there, the possibilities are endless!
What do you think? Is Positivity Toxic or is it a necessary part of life? Share your thoughts in the comments below!