In a country where almost every second person frequently uses the word ‘positivity’, it becomes important to know its exact meaning. Positivity is defined as the practice or tendency of being optimistic in attitude. Needless to say, that people consider it to be a completely helpful word, one that brings only benefits and no harm. However, the truth is, there is a thin line difference between what we call toxic positivity and healthy positivity. Most of the time we’re practising toxic positivity under the banner of healthy positivity thinking it be beneficial for us, whereas it does no good to us and rather ends up harming us in several unknown ways, specifically our mental health.
MEANING OF TOXIC AND HEALTHY POSITIVITY
Toxic positivity can be defined as ‘the overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state that results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience’, whereas healthy positivity can be defined as ‘coping with negative emotions through positive thinking strategies without denying that pain is also there.’
ILL –EFFECTS OF TOXIC POSITIVITY
All of us have heard that too much of anything isn’t good, so is the case with positivity. While we are surrounded in the scenario where everyone blows the trumpet of positivity, we must recognize the difference between the two and take proper precautions to prevent severe mental health issues that could arise out of it. Toxic positivity, that is, denial of the fact that pain, suffering, or problems exist can result in several conditions that might hinder our mental well-being.
The issues one can face because of toxic positivity are:
HOW CAN WE RECOGNIZE IT?
To prevent ourselves from practising Toxic Positivity and live a better, organized, and mentally stable life, we need to learn to recognize it first. We can do so by noticing some common, yet rarely differentiable expressions and experiences of daily life, some of which are:
- Not being able to express yourself
- Feeling guilty
- Repressing your negative emotions
- Pretending to be happy
- Feeling ashamed of your negative emotions
- Criticizing others or even yourself for expressing negative emotions
HOW CAN WE DEAL WITH IT?
Toxic positivity has serious effects on our mental, emotional, and social well-being. Once you realize that you or any of your known is practicing toxic positivity, it’s time to cut it out of your life. Nobody is perfect and we should learn to embrace our flaws. Being mentally stable does not mean to be positive in every circumstance but to be able to express ourselves just as we feel. Quite often in life, we have experienced that we feel relieved after an emotional release, which is always irrelevant to whether the information coming out is negative or positive, evidently showing the necessity of letting out all types of feelings.
We can imbibe healthy positivity by bringing slight changes in phrases that we use frequently, which are as follows:
- Using ‘All vibes are welcome here’ instead of ‘Good vibes only!’
- Using ‘Describe what you feel, I’m listening’ instead of ‘Stay positive!’
- Using ‘You look stressed, how can I help you?’ instead of ‘Don’t worry, be happy!’
- Using ‘It is pretty normal to have some negativity’ instead of ‘Stop being so negative.’
- Using ‘Giving up is okay at times’ instead of ‘Never give up!’
- Using ‘I am sorry you are going through this’ instead of ‘It could be worse.’
- Using ‘Failure is a part of success and growth’ instead of ‘Failure is never an option.’
These changes might appear little but can be of great help to the one who is suffering. In this article, we do not aim to suspect the undeniable power of positivity. However, we just wish to help people get rid of its over and toxic use. We believe in the existence of both good and bad emotions. It is always beneficial to accept things as they are and cope with it. We get one chance at living this imperfect yet beautiful life and we must embrace it in totality to reap the rewards of bountiful aliveness.