We all know someone who does it.You unload a story that includes negativity, sadness, tears, or anger, and that friend tells you “the good” in the story or “it’s not that bad”, and our feelings become invalidated. We feel a bit foolish and wonder what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel this way?!
This is a prime example of toxic positivity. It is a form of gaslighting that is subtle in its simplest form, yet quite poisonous for our mental health.
In a culture of positivity, we are suppose to “stay positive”, “look at the bright side”, and “keep optimistic”. We’ve all heard these mantras. So what’s wrong with that??!!
While positivity is essential, when forced to deny our feelings, and only examine the *good things*, we deny our true feelings, and positivity becomes an imposter and therefore, not genuine.
We make these feelings bigger when we force them away, don’t pay attention to them, or address them. We feel guilt and possibly shame after someone tells us to look at the good and we are feeling something entirely different! However, not acknowledging the negative emotions allows these feelings to go unprocessed and we cannot sustain that! It is not from all the goodness in life that we learn our most important lessons, it is from processing hardship and pain that we truly grow. It gives us valuable information about what is going on with our inner landscape. Ignoring that vital information is unhealthy, and therefore, toxic. We all need to talk about difficulties and achievements- it’s the yin and yang of our emotional life. To deny that, is asking someone to be happy all the time. Impossible. It’s all a delicate balance and learning curve.
So feel and discuss ALL the emotions- not just the good ones! If you come across toxic positivity, recognize it for what it is!! You can then make the choice to entrust a different confidante who will hear what you are trying to express!
You’re worth it!!!