Toxic Positivity-The What and Why
What is it?-"The overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state that results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience."
Why is it important?-Toxic positivity may lead to shame, guilt, emotion suppression, and isolation.
1. Most humans don't want to be seen as bad or incapable, so they choose to not say anything, for fear of invalidation or judgement about their struggles.
2. Toxic positivity can create feelings of guilt in a loved one by implying they are not doing enough to feel better, or their circumstance is their fault alone.
3. When a person feels their experienced emotions are invalidated, they are more likely to suppress them in the future (tying back to guilt and shame). These suppressed emotions can then cause physical and emotional stress on the body, commonly manifested as depression and anxiety.
4. When someone doesn't feel like they can talk to close friends or family about their struggles, they become more likely to isolate. This can lead to further mental health complications, apathy, and disconnection from self.
For more information on toxic positivity see The Psychology Group website below.
--Information and examples adapted from:
Quintero,S. & Long,J. (2019). Toxic Positivity: The Dark Side of Positive Vibes.
Retrieved from https://thepsychologygroup.com/toxic-positivity/
Bottom Line: Being a positive person is not bad. Having a positive outlook is a healthy perspective to have in life, but consider the situation and pause a moment before speaking toxic positivity into someone's life who is struggling. Validate your loved ones feelings. If you don't know what to say to comfort them that's okay! Just saying, "That sucks. I'm here for you and I love you," can do more for someone than you can imagine. Be love, speak love, and you can make a difference.
See below for examples of toxic positivity.