Toxic Positivity and what is it? We all want positive friends in our lives; people who can lift us up when we are feeling blue. This desire can be especially powerful if you are suffering from depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, though, a friend who only encourages you to be happy no matter what may not be a good friend. Being obsessively positive, regardless of circumstances, is basically the same as denying reality. Being relentlessly positive instead of being grounded in reality is like walking off a cliff. You are too busy looking at the sky instead of the ground in front of you. You need to be able to tell the difference between this toxic positivity and genuinely supportive friendship.
What Is Toxic Positivity?
Are you constantly being told to just feel happy, or to look only at the good side of life, without any acknowledgement of or room for what you are feeling? You are being subjected to toxic positivity. People who insist on only being around “positive vibes,” and who refuse to validate your real feelings, are not being your friends. When you display any signs of unhappiness or discouragement to a toxic positive friend, they tell you you’re just not trying hard enough. The real problem must be you and your attitude.
Why Is Toxic Positivity Harmful?
Sometimes you want to vent about your problems without being constantly told to think happy thoughts. Sometimes, you need to hear that it’s OK not to be OK. You need space in your life to talk about negative feelings without being made to feel guilty about them. We all need people in our lives that can “hold the space”. This phrase means that the other person is fully present and listening. They have no agenda or need to advise give or try to tell you that they have had it worse and minimize your experience.
You need to process your negative feelings, not pretend they don’t exist. When you repress your negative emotions, they build up in your subconscious. Such repression will inevitably lead to greater anxiety and depression. It can make you more irritable, and prone to lashing out in anger at the drop of a hat.
When you try to hold on to positivity and refuse to acknowledge your negative reactions, you end up driving away your future positive thoughts. Ultimately, your repressed negative feelings will build up to the point where they are too powerful for even the happiest thoughts to exist anymore.
It is important for you to recognize that you can’t always be happy and positive, and any friend who insists you should be does not have your best interests at heart. When you experience toxic positivity you can become scared of expressing or even acknowledging your true emotions. Remember: It is not kindness to deny or dismiss the pain and challenges other people face.
Learning to set healthy boundaries for yourself is key. Know what you will and will not tolerate from othres. Don’t feel obligated to have to stay around others that are not positive or that do not want the best for you. They will drain you of your time and energy.
At High Expectations we are trained to help you work through tough areas of your life where toxic individuals may have a hold on you. We have a workshop for women and Boundaries. Reach out to Rebecca@therapyhec.com for more information