The global pandemic at first created a panic amongst everyone. It slowly made people understand their needs over their wants, followed by an era of social distancing. Covid-19 has exposed all the fears within, allowing people to carve a path to return to a better version of themselves. However, several people have been preaching about positivity subtly to people who are already dealing with anxiety and fear with an overdose of positivity. It can be termed as ‘Toxic Positivity’. Yes, toxic positivity is real, and especially during the pandemic, it is very dangerous. Anything too much, including positivity is always bad.
Being positive is good, but suppressing your emotions to appear positive is really toxic. In simple terms, Toxic positivity is acting happy when you’re really not and continuously denying unpleasant experiences.
Healthy Vs. Toxic Positivity
Healthy positivity is when it’s realistic, and that positivity brings out a healthy character and outlook on life. When we face challenges in life, we need to thrive along with them and that is good positivity. We all face problems, cultivating a positive outlook on them doesn’t mean ignoring or denying them. The best thing we can do is notice the problems allow ourselves and to feel upset while simultaneously paying attention to the good things in life regardless of the problems. A person who has the quality of good positivity is always willing to acknowledge and discuss problems while trying to find a reasonable solution even when the situation is beyond one’s control.
On the other hand, toxic positivity is being in denial of negative thoughts and emotions and pretending that everything is perfect in life. It is an obsession with positive thinking. In this state, people even refuse to talk about things that upset them. You can easily identify a toxic positive person when they always try to force enjoyment while engaging in unhealthy behaviors which may include watching excessive TV, constantly being on social media, and many such behaviors that help them escape reality and avoid facing life. They even believe that every experience and incident should be put on a positive spin, even on those that are tragic.
Toxic positivity is harmful because the person tries to encourage people to ignore their problems and negative emotions. And when they are unable to feel positive, they feel that they are failing to be happy in life.
Avoiding Toxic Positivity
Striving to stay upbeat and optimistic during this life-altering global pandemic can always backfire. Toxic positivity has gone overdrive during the COVID-19 lockdown. People are feeling too positive and are just filled with ideas to spend their time by finding something new to learn, write or read something, and find their passion. It is a good thing if people are overlooking the pandemic and find the silver linings in the lockdown, but the constant approach to this method is toxic positivity.
So let’s dive in and find out how we can overcome toxic positivity.
It’s Okay to be not Okay
The more you suppress your emotions, the more it damages you. Rather than pushing away negative thoughts, you can try to acknowledge them. Acknowledging is the first thing that helps you decide what to do with those emotions. Avoid ignoring and suppressing genuine emotions. It is scary to face your own feelings and makes you vulnerable but this is the best opportunity to improve your relationship with yourself. Just be yourself and know that it’s okay to be not okay. Even though it’s scary, expressing yourself and your feelings to others can help you improve your relationship with your loved ones while feeling better about yourself.
Face your Emotions
Try to recognize your full range of thoughts and emotions. Face your emotions one by one. If you feel bad, let yourself feel bad. If you’re feeling a good emotion, embrace it and live in that moment. Sometimes, you may feel several emotions at once and it feels like it doesn’t make any sense. Let yourself go through multiple emotions at the same time and feel it.
Maintain a Journal
“Journaling is a good way to help us to stop, take a step back, and reflect on ourselves.” – Journey Cloud.
Many studies have shown the benefits of journaling. Time spent journaling is always time well spent with yourself and your own emotions. You can jot down your feelings into words and help yourself figure out what you feel and what you need. It is helpful to navigate multiple and tricky feelings. Writing a journal of gratitude can also be a great way to nurture genuine happiness in your life. This self-therapeutic approach can give you a chance to find yourself.
Unplug from Social Media
Social media can be a platform for toxic positivity. If you cannot leave social media altogether, you can optimize content consumption. Unplug and stay off of social media to less than what you’re consuming now and the results can be amazing. Avoiding social media can also avoid comparing yourself to others who act happy even when they aren’t exactly feeling that way. You can use this opportunity to do a ‘Digital Detox’ and spend more time writing a journal, reading or be creative.
Don’t be intimated by what’s happening in the world right now. Instead, focus on yourself and feel the genuineness of your emotions.