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Toxic Positivity

Toxic Positivity

18 Aug 2021

Toxic positivity is the conviction that individuals must maintain a positive attitude no matter how complex a circumstance. It is a good feeling only approach to life. Though there are benefits to having an optimistic mindset, toxic positivity discards difficult emotions for a falsely positive pretense.

Types of Toxic Positivity

When individuals receive bad news like losing their job and people around them ask them to stay positive. The concerned individuals may not be able to express what they are experiencing.

If a person is experiencing some loss and is told, “everything is for a reason”. Though the statement is made to comfort the individual, it might be a way of evading the other person’s pain.

When an individual expresses disappointment, someone informs that “happiness is a choice”. It indicates that any negative emotion is because the individual has decided not to be happy.

The Reason Toxic Positivity Is Harmful

Toxic positivity can impact people having difficult times. Instead of sharing real human emotions and receiving unconditional assistance, people find their outlook dismissed or overlooked.


If someone is suffering, they must realise that their emotions are genuine and can find relief in their friends and family. Toxic positivity communicates to people that their feelings are not acceptable.

Results in a Feeling of Guilt

It delivers a message that if you are not identifying a way to feel positive, you are doing something incorrect even if faced with a tragedy.

Averts Reliable Human Emotions

Toxic positivity operates as an evasion mechanism. When individuals engage in this kind of behavior, it enables them to avoid emotional circumstances that make them unbearable. There are times when the toxic thoughts could be internalised and be denied.

Impedes Growth

It ensures we avoid emotions that could be agonising, but it also does not allow us to handle challenging emotions that could result in the development and deeper insight.

Signs of Toxic Positivity

  • Not facing problems
  • Feeling guilt about negative emotions
  • Disguising real feelings behind statements that might be accepted by society
  • Humiliating those who do not have a positive attitude
  • Trying to overcome painful emotions

Avoiding Toxic Positivity

Not Denying Negative Emotions

Any negative emotion could result in anxiety when not checked, but they could deliver critical information resulting in transformation.

Human emotions are diverse and critical for well-being. E.g., anxiety alerts an individual to a dangerous circumstance, anger is an expected response to injustice, and sadness reflects a loss. According to some research, communicating about negative emotions is good for the brain.

Set Realistic Expectations

While facing a stressful circumstance, it is usual to feel stressed, and it would be appropriate to focus on self-care and initiate measures to enhance the existing situation.

Having Multiple Emotions Is Normal

When faced with a challenge, it is possible to have mixed emotions, feeling nervous about the future while hopeful of success.

Listening Skills

Listen to others when they communicate a difficult emotion. Do not prevent them from speaking with toxic words.

Observe Your Feelings

Being active on social media and following positive posts can be inspiring, but observe your feelings after viewing such content. If you are feeling ashamed, it could be because of toxic positivity. In such a scenario, try restricting the time you spend on social media.

Toxic positivity is highly subtle and everyone has engaged in such thinking at some point. Recognising and accepting it would help in eliminating such thought processes. It would also be appropriate to identify toxic statements and strive to let others know your positive and negative emotions.