Have you ever been told that ‘everything happens for a reason’, by someone when you are going through a tough life circumstance? This is an example of toxic positivity. Sometimes we can self impose toxic positivity to make our suffering more comfortable for others around us. Here’s why you should no longer accept this or do this.

Toxic positivity, demeans emotions such as grief, invalidates a persons experiences and feeds into a persons self worth negatively. These are not helpful ways to encourage a person to deal with the emotions they are going through. Quiet the opposite. The invalidation says that the persons feelings are not ok and they are to make life easier for those around them. Rather than those in a better emotional space supporting the person whilst they are struggling. It can be a learned behaviour and leave us feeling guilt, shame, but more importantly if stifles emotional growth.

Toxic positivity is rife in the spiritual and coaching community. Many ‘professionals’ use it as a tool for healing and while positivity goes a long way to helping people, if we do not validate the reason a person is in pain, all we are doing is bypassing and stuffing down the real issues. This helps no one.

Toxic positivity in people can also be a sign we are not dealing with issues. Some signs include:

Feeling guilt or shame about feeling sad, angry or other ‘negative’ emotions.

Brushing off problems

Hiding how you feel when asked if you are ok

Minimising or your own or others feeling to make others feel more comfortable

Using positive quotes to mask your true feelings

Belittling or shaming yourself for not being positive

All the above can be used against you also by those using toxic positivity. How can we avoid it? Firstly we have to develop a healthier way to see negative emotions. We cannot be positive all the time. There will be things that happen and we will feel sad, angry or hurt. These are normal responses to disappointment. Whilst we never want to stay in negative emotions for lengthy periods of time. It’s ok to sit in them and acknowledge that we feel them.

For example we may feel stressed about our job. This could be because the job is no longer working for us and a change needs to take place. If we were to use toxic positivity to mask the feelings, we wouldn’t be able to see the change that needs to take place and likely become more unhappy, stressed or even depressed. This can take a toll on not only our mental health, but also our physical health and relationships with others.

If you can see someone is using toxic positivity against you or others, remind them that its ok to feel low or sad at times. All feeling are valid, whether they are good or bad. Be gentle with yourself if you are using toxic positivity against yourself. We are only human and it takes time to unlearn these behaviours and coping mechanisms. All emotions are useful, they can show us when things are working well for us and also when they are not.

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