Is your positivity toxic?
Good vibes only please!
I am going to breathe in positivity and breathe out negativity!
Just be positive!
How many times do we hear phrases like this either with friends or in the workplace? I know I've heard these many times in the past. Toxic Positivity can be described as "the excessive and ineffective overgeneralisation of a happy, optimistic state that results in denial, minimisation and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience" meaning that you can't be positive all of the time and it's certainly not good for you.
Any form of negative emotion, including anxiety, depression, sadness, guilt, anger & jealousy needs to exist in order for us to be human. I always explain to my clients that I can't eradicate their negative emotions completely, and nor should they want me to, as it won't be helpful to them in the long term. I get it, I am human too, who wants to feel bad when they can feel good? But it's not always possible to feel happy all of the time, and it sounds rather tiresome. We seem to live in a world now where there's no longer room for negative emotions, either in our social or working lives. How has this happened? Why have we become so intolerant to our negative emotions? By being intolerant we often try to suppress these emotions or hide them until we can let them out alone, this really isn't healthy. So I am writing this blog to take a stand and say enough is enough!
What is important for us, to be emotionally healthy, is to tolerate and accept that bad things can happen, we may not always get what we want and that things won't always be positive. Have a look at some of the below phrases from @sitwithit and see if you can resonate with some of the toxic positivity phrases, have you ever said any?
I am a therapist and I get angry, I feel sadness, in fact I feel all emotions as everyone else does! That may come as a shock but I find it really helps clients for me to show my human side. I am not a robot sat on the other side of the room telling people to be happy all of the time.
If you see someone present themselves who is positive all the time it can often lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and pressure to always be happy. We compare ourselves to others and seeing someone happy all of the time can make us doubt our own emotional ability and also resent our own negative emotions. The person who is showing themselves to be happy all of the time is only allowing you to see the positive part of themselves, which isn't healthy either! If we're afraid to show our negative emotions we can often over compensate the healthier emotions to make up for the fact we might be feeling sad or angry.
If you, or anyone you know, tries to be positive all of the time try and have a go at saying some of the validation and hope phrases in the table above. By freeing yourself of the need to be happy all of the time you can develop a healthier acceptance of all your emotions. This can lead to a greater acceptance of who you are, warts and all. Sometimes that can be hard to achieve on your own so therapy can really help challenge the negative self-talk, the need to be toxically positive and any demands you put on yourself or others about your emotional state.
If you think therapy could help you then please feel free to get in touch
Till next time