Updated: Jan 18
There's a huge difference between healthy and toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is characterized by the dismissal of negative emotions and an unrealistically optimistic response to distress rather than empathy. Some signs of toxic positivity include dismissing feelings that are negative, feeling guilt for experiencing negative emotions, and exclusively focusing on the positive aspects of a negative experience. This week’s article focuses on the negative outcomes of toxic positivity and how to treat it.
When you brush away negative emotions, it can build up to stress. This will be detrimental to your health because it can increase anxiety, depression, and disrupt sleep. It is important to remember that negative emotions such as fear, sadness and anger are difficult to confront but ultimately exist to help us. These emotions guide us in decision making, compassion, and survival. For example, fear tells us to flee a dangerous situation, anger tells us to confront those that have perhaps taken advantage of us, and sadness makes us aware of the loss of something that we valued. When looking on the bright side, we may therefore block out information that is useful to us.
Journaling is a great way to address toxic positivity since it helps us confront our feelings and in doing so, relieve anxiety. Furthermore, journaling helps us articulate our negative emotions. This is a great opportunity to outline goals to address these negative emotions and the means that can be taken to do so. You can also openly discuss your emotions with friends or family members that you trust who can provide you with advice and comfort you. In order to have the most productive conversations with your loved ones, it is important to clarify your needs and what you hope to get out of the conversation.
“When Positivity Turns Toxic and 4 Ways to Combat It.” Canadian Mental Health Association, 27 Apr. 2021, https://mentalhealthweek.ca/when-positivity-turns-toxic-and-4-ways-to-combat-it/.
“Toxic Positivity: Definition, Risks, How to Avoid, and More.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/toxic-positivity#avoiding-toxic-positivity
“Journaling for Mental Health.” Journaling for Mental Health - Health Encyclopedia - University of Rochester Medical Center, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1.”
“What Is Toxic Positivity?” Right as Rain by UW Medicine, 8 Sept. 2021, https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/mind/well-being/toxic-positivity.