U is for Understanding Toxic Positivity

U is for Understanding Toxic Positivity

You may have heard about or experienced toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is the dismissal of negative emotions with overly positive attitudes and ideas rather than empathy. Toxic positivity is the false reassurance that “everything will be fine” or “everything happens for a reason” instead of experiencing negative emotions.

Why is toxic positivity so toxic?

Even though we as humans tend to strive for happiness, it is unrealistic to be happy all of the time. When something terrible happens to us, and we have emotions or reactions that aren’t positive, it is actually more unhealthy to repress those emotions and pretend to be happy. Ignoring difficult emotions can cause more pain in the long run. In addition, it can come across to others as shallow, dismissive, or uncaring.

Why do we see toxic positivity so often?

Most people engaging in toxic positivity aren’t insensitive, but instead, they are coming from a place of discomfort. These people usually mean no harm, and perhaps they even think they are being helpful. For example, it can be extremely difficult for many to talk about hard topics, such as loss. So instead of sitting with the complex emotions of their loved ones during difficult times, they jump to trying to stay or be extra positive.

How do we deal with toxic positivity?

Knowing that we are all human and that we are not meant to be perfect or positive all the time, is the first step in dealing with this. No one can or should be positive all of the time. Creating space for yourself and your loved ones to release negative or difficult emotions can be challenging. But that space is necessary to move past these feelings. Communicate with your friends, family, and coworkers that it is OK to not be positive all of the time. Give support to those who need to vent or are going through a difficult time. If you can set this example to those in your life, it will be easier for them to experience the same level of communication with you in the future. 

Recognizing toxic positivity in yourself and others can be extremely difficult. As a culture, we are conditioned to think that positivity,  no matter what, automatically equals good. Start having honest conversations with those you spend time with rather than getting beat down about how prevalent toxic positivity is. It may surprise you that many people feel the same way.


Subscribe to our newsletter and get our free divorce guide, “Divorce Dilemma”.