Overcoming Toxic Positivity

“Get over it” they said
“Stay positive” they said
“Just be happy” I told myself.

In today’s world of “look for the silver lining” and “happiness is a choice”, it is easy to get carried away into thinking that no matter how challenging a situation is, we need to maintain a good vibes only outlook. Today, I wanted to draw your attention to the
concept of Toxic Positivity, with the hope that this encourages you to nurture a healthy outlook and mindset.
Toxic Positivity is an obsession with staying positive. In an article on healthline, Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, explains toxic positivity to be “the assumption, either by one’s self or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset or — ‘positive vibes.’”

Toxic positivity is less about having a positive perspective, and more about putting on the facade of being positive. It involves brushing aside emotions and quickly adopting a positive outlook, irrespective of how one truly feels.
Most of us have been guilty of toxic positivity at some point or the other, either by inflicting it on ourselves or by receiving or giving it to others. We can recognise this toxic positivity, when we hear phrases similar to the ones at the start of this post, voices that encourage us to brush our emotions aside and focus on the good. You might even recognise it, when there is a feeling of mismatch between your real emotions and those that you are portraying. You’ll spot it in a fake smile, or in an ingenuine comment. Psychologists will tell you about risks and dangers of brushing negative emotions aside or pushing them deep within, and exchanging them for a false sense of positivity.

As a coach, I believe in the power of self talk in cultivating a healthy mindset. A mindset that allows you to acknowledge how you might be feeling from within and then work through them productively. Self talk is the internal dialogue we have with ourselves that tend to influence our thoughts and beliefs which ultimately influence our actions and in turn our reality. Here are some alternative phrases you can use,when you catch yourself trying to put on a front of staying positive in the midst of a difficult and challenging situation.

Toxic Positivity: “Get over it”
An Alternative: “You’ve been through difficult times before, I believe in you.”
Toxic Positivity: “Stay Positive.”
An Alternative: “Let’s try and spot some good in here .”

Toxic Positivity: “Just be happy.”
An Alternative: “It’s okay to feel negative emotions, but what can I do to feel better.”

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