“Just think positive”, “Everything happens for a reason”, “Good vibes only please”, “It could be worse”…
At some point in 2020, you’ve probably uttered these phrases, or been the subject of it. As well-meaning as you (or the other party) intended, at that moment, your upbeat words invalidated real, authentic human emotions – and that’s the crux of toxic positivity.
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“Toxic positivity is the failure to recognise situational negativity. When people are hit with hard times, it may lead them to experience sadness, fear or anger. Toxic positivity manifests when these people are told to ‘snap out of it’, ‘move on’, ‘look at the bright side’ or even ‘stop crying’. This invalidates their feelings and deprives them of the healing process of dealing with these emotions,” explains Nathalie Gevinti, Mind Mentor with Stellar Minds.
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The harsh truth is, life (and emotions) get messy and we often turn to friends and family to help us process the emotions or to get a listening ear. Unfortunately, we don’t always get heard and sometimes leave the interaction feeling worse.
While you can’t control the actions of others or insist they be your pillar of support, it is important to recognise the signs of toxic positivity to draw healthy boundaries or step away from the cheery echo chamber for an objective perspective.