Healthy Positivity vs. Toxic Positivity

A new attitude has taken over social media and the behavior of some people: the toxic positivity attitude. What do I mean? Let me explain with this simple analogy. Say you’ve decided to wear your nicest clothes and while walking on the sidewalk you get splashed by a car because of a plugged street drain? Now if you’ve rewired your brain to be full of toxic positivity, you’ll probably get over this in a very short period of time, and maybe even buy new clothes. If you’re a a healthy person who is able to validate your own feelings, rather than dismiss their existence: you’ll probably take yourself to the nearest bathroom, try to clean up the mess, and look not so happy. You’ll also accept the fact this happened and it isn’t going to put a smile on your face, but that’s okay. You know why? Because sometimes it is okay to have normal reactions to unfortunate events. Right?

Isn’t it overwhelming to attempt to have a grin plastered on your face when you are in an uncomfortable social situation? Isn’t it awkward when you see someone who seems to always be in a great mood, secretly crying in the restroom? We’ve all seen it. Most people uncomfortably run from their emotions and others as well. Some have decided this is the path to positivity and I think it’s a path to a denial of reality.

You can’t appreciate the light if you have not faced the dark. As cliche as it sounds, it is undeniably true. Those who face reality are often labeled by these toxic positivists as: “too negative, pessimistic, cynical, not fun, and a downer.” So be it. Their strength was not forged out of unicorns and rainbows, but out of introspection, observance, awareness and realism.

When we accept as a society phrases like get over it, be positive and anything is possible, just be full of bliss, and just see the greatness in the world, what are we doing? We are not only diminishing our right to feel normal reactions but also the right for others to feel normal reactions. This pressure is immensely painful to place upon those who are already suffering with facing obstacles in their life which can cause health, financial, or personal consequences. It can contribute to this unrealistic expectation cycle where they feel as if something is wrong with their outlook, when in fact something is wrong with the person who bottles up their darkest emotions instead of accepting them. Instead of accepting it as part of the journey of life. And as humans, we should not be transfixed into feelings only positive emotions. It is not the way to real, mature, healthy transcendence. Thank you.

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