Hold onto your juice boxes and vodka, a movement for obsessive positivity has gripped the nation. Companies hold employee wide events where they bring in teams to develop and push a positive culture. If you’re going through a rough patch the new fix is “Be positive”. People walk around with T-shirts and bumper stickers saying ‘Positive Vibes Only’ or ‘Mind Over Matter’. The trend of pushing ‘Can’t fix the situation so fix your attitude’ has reached the point of being bad for our mental health. This is where Toxic Positivity emerges. PsychologyToday.com states “Toxic Positivity refers to the concept that keeping positive, and keeping positive only, is the right way to live your life.” This idea is equally as ridiculous as telling asthmatics to keep running through an attack.
I wrote a post last year called ‘Luck or Effort’, in the closing paragraph I mentioned that people need think positive to receive the blessings the universe is offering. I still believe this to be true but I also believe there is a limit to how far positive thinking can take you. There are so many situations in which positivity is an asset. It can help us glide through our daily situations with more grace than work, school, and life itself deserves. However, positive thinking is not going to bring someone back to life or turn that rejection letter into something else. Positivity won’t pay your bills. Sometimes even perseverance won’t pay your bills. While you should look for positives throughout your life the negative experiences we go through are the balance of this. Let’s face it, no one wants to experience negative situations, no one is asking the universe to bring them pain. (and if you are please seek counseling because that is an entirely different issue). Forcing yourself to accept positivity in devastating situations is self-abuse.
For example, the pandemic has been catastrophic for many people around the world. The death toll continues to climb even with vaccine access. This global situation has caused a worldwide pause. It has effected people physically even if you didn’t ever get it. Stress and fear has caused people to shut themselves away from the world and avoid medical treatment for other issues. Extroverts are suffocating in isolation. And sure there are some positives we can dig out of the garbage but I’m not going to mention them here. The positives of this worldwide situation were not worth the deaths it took to obtain them. This is not a positive situation and I don’t believe in suffocating yourself to see a silver lining. We also cannot ignore anything that isn’t positive.
It’s healthy to have emotional states other than happy, positive outlooks. It’s good to be angry and sad and to learn to process these feelings in a healthy way. We’ve been preaching positivity for so long many people have forgotten how to recognize our emotional all together. How do we relearn to recognize and process emotions? I’m not an expert in processing emotions but I have been practicing for a long time. My first suggestion is a journal. It doesn’t need to be a diary; in fact, it can be a Word Doc that’s deleted immediately afterword. Just write out what your feelings and ask yourself what is making you feel that way. Is that really how you’re feeling or is something else bothering you? Why is it making you feel that way? I know it sounds ridiculous but it really does help to process what is going on in your head. Once you’ve gotten good at recognizing your emotions and what’s causing them, you can skip writing them down. It’s important to check in with yourself, whether it’s while meditating, exercising, driving, or just processing everything before bed. To state my point clearly, not everything needs to be positive all the time, humans have other legitimate emotions.
And in closing, fuck your toxic positivity.
Also for fun I put that on a T-shirt you can buy here:Toxic Positivity Shirt