Everyone has bad days and good days. We can all have more positive days if we keep a routine of self-care. Simple changes can make a huge difference.
However, we don’t need to pretend that everything is perfect when it isn’t. Positivity can also be dangerous if it isn’t genuine, forceful or legitimizes real feelings anxiety, fear and sadness.
In this instance, it is not healthy positivity; it is toxic.
What Is Toxic Positivity
Jaime Zuckerman, a certified clinical psychologist and cognitive behavior therapist, defines it as: “The assumption, either by yourself or others that despite an individual’s emotional pain, or difficult situation, they should still have a positive outlook or — my favorite term — ‘positive vibes.”
It is a good thing to have a positive outlook on your life. The Problem is, life doesn’t always look good. Everyone has to deal with negative emotions and experiences. Even though they are often difficult, these emotions should be felt and treated openly.
Toxic positivity can reduce positive thinking to an extreme. This attitude is more than just a reminder of the importance and value of optimism.
We are telling them they should be ashamed of being sad, or embarrassed about being afraid. Dr. Zuckerman explained that trying to ignore, suppress or ignore emotions that are appropriate for the situation can cause someone to be isolated in times of crisis, perpetuating the stigma that mental illness is a sign of weakness.
Why It’s Harmful
People who are experiencing difficult times can be hurt by toxic positivity. People are less likely to be able to share their genuine emotions and receive unconditional support than they are to feel dismissed, ignored or even invalidated.
It creates guilt.
It dismisses authentic human emotion.
It hinders growth.
Toxic Positivity Examples and Signs
Although toxic positivity is often subtle, it’s not difficult to identify. Some toxic positivity examples and signs are:
Avoiding problems and not facing them
Feeling guilty for being sad, angry, and/or disappointed
It’s okay to not be okay quotes and other feel-good statements can make it seem easier to hide your true feelings in favor of more socially acceptable ones
How you feel is hidden or disguised
Avoiding other people’s emotions because they can make you feel uncomfortable
Shaming others when they have a negative attitude
Try to be positive or “get over” your painful emotions
How to Deal With Toxic Positivity
You can take steps to improve your support and health if you have been affected or recognize toxic positivity in yourself. Here are some suggestions:
Control your negative emotions, but do not deny them. Sharing it’s okay not to be okay quotes can be helpful for some time but doing nothing about it is performative at best. Negative feelings can create stress, but they can also be a source of valuable information that could lead to positive changes in one’s life.
Be realistic with how you should feel. You may feel worried, anxious, or afraid when you’re in a stressful situation. Have realistic expectations from yourself. Focus on self care, and take steps to improve your situation.
You can feel more than one emotion. You can feel anxious about the future but hopeful about your ability to overcome it. Your emotions are just as complex as the situation.
Be open to listening and offering support. Do not try to silence someone who is experiencing a difficult emotion. Instead, let the person know that they are normal and that you are here to listen.
How do you feel? Although following “positive” social media accounts can provide inspiration, it is important to pay attention to how you feel after viewing and interacting with such content. It could be toxic positivity that causes you to feel ashamed or guilt when you see “uplifting” posts. In such cases, consider limiting your social media consumption.
People who have suffered from mental illness or grief may find it more difficult to deal with the constant pressure to be happy. Sometimes, when we are feeling low, we try to cover the pain with a smile. Sometimes getting out of bed can be a difficult task. There is often no reason to feel depressed at times. We push people away when it feels like there is a cloud hanging over our heads. It is easier to ignore what is happening and not be too bothersome about it. It is not the same thing to get through your problems as to ignore them.
There are many ways to get past the low days, whether it’s sharing it’s okay not to be okay quotes, talking to someone, seeking answers to your emotions, or drawing, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness. It’s okay for you to feel down.
When It’s Normal, When It’s Not
There is an increasing number of people suffering from mental disorders such as depression. More people struggle with addictive behavior and anxiety. Somehow, the word “okay”, while it may sound nice, is too simple and shallow to be able to grasp the terrible terror and pain that can grip someone with depression.
It’s okay to not feel okay. This implies that one must somehow stay in that situation. Another way to say there is no solution is to use this phrase. For any mental condition, there is always a solution. It may take courage, humility and honesty to find meaning, happiness, and it might require some determination.
It’s Time to Seek Help
It is OK to not be OK. But it is not OK to not do anything about it. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength.
Professional support is not available on social media. It’s not urgent enough for many people who struggle with their mental health. People should not hesitate to tell someone that they aren’t okay if they are struggling
Haven House Recovery Can Help You
If you ask anyone who has recovered successfully, they will tell you that the first thing they did after understanding and acknowledging they had a problem was get treatment. They will almost certainly tell you that seeking assistance was the best thing they ever did.
Asking for aid is necessary. But it’s also critical to get the assistance of someone who understands what they’re talking about. At Haven House Recovery’s drug rehab in Nashville, TN, we work with each guest to ensure their treatment program is completely personalized for their unique needs.
This allows us to treat visitors more successfully – and to ensure that you make a full recovery when you leave us.
Contact us today to discuss how we can help you or someone you love.