“Everything will be fine”
“Stay positive! It could be worse”
Chances are you’ve heard a phrase like these before if you’ve ever gone through a difficult time — even more so during COVID-19. Usually, these statements are said with the best intentions but the truth is that if you only ever hear this then the overwhelming amount of positivity can become negative.
Let me explain why.
Too much positivity changes how we process emotions by oversimplifying what’s going on around us. It encourages a person to stay silent during times of struggle when in reality shutting out negative emotions and replacing them with optimism doesn’t make them go away. If anything it collates them all together and exacerbates them for another time.
. . .
What is toxic positivity?
Toxic positivity is the concept that always keeping positive is the right way to live your life and that you should be rejecting anything that may cause negative emotions.
The reality is when you avoid emotions you don’t like you will only make them bigger. In fact, when you tell yourself you don’t need to pay attention to those emotions you become trapped in a cycle. The emotions that remain unprocessed and pushed out will become bigger — we need to process all our emotions equally and understand that having a bad day or experiencing negative thoughts is perfectly normal.
. . .
How can I avoid getting trapped in the cycle of toxic positivity?
Living in a world filled with happiness and positivity where everything is rosy would be amazing but the reality is that this isn’t going to happen and that’s exactly how you can break the cycle, by staying in reality. This doesn’t make that you have to keep your head in the real world for every second of every day — by all means, drift off into your imagination every now and again. What it means is that we shouldn’t be cutting off the negative emotions until it comes to a point where their overwhelming and all have to be dealt with at once.
We can also help other people to break the cycle by validating their emotions and difficulties. Instead of pushing other people’s pain and problems to one side, start understanding their emotions. This doesn’t mean you’re expected to solve all their problems, it just means you’re not going to make them worse by canceling them out.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You and is republished here with permission from the author.
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