The Damaging Effects of Toxic Positivity

By Abby Phillips
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The Damaging Effects of Toxic Positivity

by Abby Phillips

In a world of constant disarray, the answer to your problems is not “I’m fine.” While “it could be worse,” you are allowed to feel any and all emotions. Sometimes “looking on the brightside” is too blinding, and while “everything may happen for a reason,” can we finally stop the constant toxic positivity? It is time that we all accept the truth– It’s OK not to be OK.

What is it?

Toxic positivity is exactly what it sounds like: being overly positive despite how dire a situation may be. While the intentions of the toxic positive person may be good, constantly having a positive outlook is often emotionally draining. In fact, it’s unhealthy. Toxic positivity prevents growth and causes more pain and stress. Examples of toxic positivity include:

– “Focus on the good things in life.”

– “Don’t worry about it.”

– “Failure is not an option.”

– “Look on the brightside!”

– “If I could do it, you can, too!”

– “Good vibes only.”

– “You will get over it.”

– “You will be fine.”

– “See the good in everything”

– “Never give up!”

– “Just smile!”

– “It could be worse.”

– “Everything happens for a reason.”


How to avoid it:

When avoiding toxic positivity, it is important to focus your efforts on yourself and on others. It is not only important to avoid telling yourself toxic remarks, but it is also important not to share these harmfully encouraging remarks with others. Here is how:

1. Embrace all the Feelings

While bottling up emotions feels like the easier option, it is much more damaging. Allow yourself to feel every emotion you have and process those emotions on your own time frame. Don’t hide your emotions from yourself or others. Being candid about your feelings and emotions will allow you to process them in a healthy way and allow you to help others process their emotions in a healthy way. 


2. Take a Well-Needed Break

Take a break from the opinions of the peanut gallery. Whether you take a mental break or a literal break from social media, bring your focus away from the opinions of others and enjoy the peace of mind it brings. 

3. Make Your Own Rules/Timelines

It is your life, your timeline, and your rules. If you process your emotions in one week or one year, it is ok and perfect timing for you. When you stop comparing your progress to others, you can finally shift your focus to your own timeline and rules for getting through the difficult times. 

4. Do Not Emotion-Shame

Everyone processes emotions at different stages. While you may get over things quickly, your friend may take much longer to process his/her feelings. Give them their time and space to process their emotions. Do not shame them for how quickly or slowly they take in comparison to you. Offer support to those struggling to make sense of their emotions and never shame them for what they are feeling.  


5. Express Yourself

Having an outlet to express your emotions in a healthy way is so important. Find a creative outlet, like journaling, to proclaim your deepest thoughts. Journaling or writing is a great way to let your emotions speak for themselves. Get your inner thoughts and feelings out in a  self-therapeutic manner and self-reflect on your emotions and feelings. 

Whether you are looking to avoid toxic positivity from others or preventing yourself from becoming overly positive, these tips are here to assist you! We would love to hear what you think. Comment below what tips work for you! 

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