What is Toxic Positivity?

It seems toxic positivity is being talked about quite a bit – at least on social media.

This is a critical topic to address.

Toxic positivity is when we always have to be upbeat, to be smiling, and have something positive to say, to the extent that people are not allowed to feel ’negative’ feelings or when they do, they can feel guilty for having them. It’s a demand that sadness, frustration and even anger are ignored or forbidden.

Toxic positivity means that people who are suffering from mental health challenges will be side-lined but the truth is that we all go through difficult times in our lives. And it is not helpful that people try to “make us happy” at those times

Positivity of course can be helpful and healthy for the brain. Appreciation and gratitude can help prevent depression and burnout.

But this does not mean we have to put on a false happy face or that we have to turn every situation into something happy or light.  Sometimes, life is hard. Sometimes horrible things happen. These are not the times to slap on a happy face or even to label these emotions as ‘negative’

Not at all. Emotions are messages, they are telling us to pay attention and when we ignore or repress them, it can make things even harder. Toxic positivity can be shaming, and it tells people that their emotions are wrong.

So, as we continue to promote positivity in work, let’s make sure that we are not forcing a smile where it doesn’t belong. Let’s make sure our message of positivity isn’t interpreted as positivity at all costs implying that we discriminate against those who don’t feel like it.

shooksvensen promotes positivity, yet we are very aware that toxic positivity can prevent growth because in denying our feelings we can actually miss opportunities to learn things about ourselves.   I’m sure others reading this will also resonate with this idea.

Let’s make sure there is room for unhappy feelings, for anger, frustration, being gloomy and sad. Let’s make sure that we strive to make room for people who can’t find their way to a smile or a happy mood in this moment or the next. Let us embrace people who need a hug, who need some space and careful handling.

Other Blog posts about positivity and compassion: