Who Answers?

Everybody appreciates some good vibes. In fact, having a positive outlook on life has benefits for your mental health and well-being.

Being optimistic is strongly associated with better mental health outcomes, including lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Optimistic people are better able to cope with difficult situations and bounce back from setbacks. They are also more likely to approach problems with a positive mindset, which can help them come up with creative solutions.

In fact, optimism has also been linked to better immune function, lower levels of inflammation, and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. So not only is it good for your mental health, but it also has benefits for your physical health as well.

With a positive mindset, you can strengthen your relationships with the people around you. And because you are more motivated and persistent in pursuing your goals, you have greater chances of achieving success in life. Overall, being optimistic can help you lead a happier, healthier, and more successful life.

The only problem is when you push away negative thoughts or deny your own feelings just for the sake of staying positive. Unfortunately, life isn’t always positive. Everyone experiences painful experiences. Denying or avoiding these emotions is harmful for your mental well being.

In some cases, people are not aware that they are practicing toxic positivity. Sometimes an optimistic outlook becomes toxic when you hide your true feelings instead of confronting the problem.

While these painful emotions can be unpleasant and difficult to deal with, they need to be dealt with openly and honestly in order to heal mentally and enjoy better psychological health.

Here we will be discussing toxic positivity: what it is, what it looks like, and how to avoid it. Learning all about toxic positivity can help you especially if you have a loved one who is struggling with a mental illness. Although you may be tempted to put a positive spin on their experience, it’s best if you approach the situation directly and let them express emotions honestly.

What is Toxic Positivity and How Does it Affect Your Mental Health

There is a fine line between positivity and toxic positivity. It’s important to understand the difference.

Positivity refers to having a positive mindset and outlook on life, which can help one cope with challenges and maintain good mental health. It involves recognizing and acknowledging negative emotions and experiences, but also focusing on the positive aspects of situations and seeking solutions.

Toxic positivity, on the other hand, is an overemphasis on the positive to the point where it dismisses or invalidates negative emotions and experiences. Toxic positivity refers to the notion that people should always maintain a positive mindset, no matter what is happening in their lives.  It is the belief that individuals should always remain optimistic and happy, even in situations that are difficult or challenging.

Toxic positivity can create pressure to maintain a positive attitude, even when it’s not healthy or appropriate to do so. It can be harmful because it can create a sense of pressure to always be positive, leading to the suppression of emotions and the belief that any negative feelings are unacceptable or weak. It can make people feel guilty or ashamed for feeling sad or anxious. This can even  exacerbate mental health problems.

An example of toxic positivity is if someone is going through a tough time, and they are told to “just think positively”, “look on the bright side”, or “focus on the good”. This is dismissive because it does not acknowledge the person’s current struggles. The same goes for the saying “everything happens for a reason,” especially if someone is experiencing grief or loss. Instead of being comforting, these statements ignore the person’s pain.

While these statements are usually well-intentioned, toxic positivity can still be harmful.

It is essential to acknowledge and process all emotions, including negative ones, as they are a natural part of the human experience. Ignoring them can cause more harm than good. Instead, focusing on building resilience and coping skills that help individuals manage their emotions in a healthy and productive way can be more helpful.

In essence, positivity is a healthy and beneficial mindset, while toxic positivity is an unhealthy and potentially damaging approach that can lead to emotional suppression and invalidation. It’s important to strike a balance between acknowledging and processing negative emotions and seeking a positive outlook on life.

What are the Effects of Toxic Positivity?

Too much positivity can be harmful, especially for someone who is going through tough times. Toxic positivity prevents you from sharing genuine human emotions. Instead of getting unconditional support, the person’s feelings are invalidated, dismissed, or ignored.

Toxic positivity refers to the phenomenon of always looking on the bright side of life, no matter the situation.

Some of the mental health effects of toxic positivity include:

Invalidating negative emotions: Toxic positivity can make people feel like their negative emotions are not valid or important. This can make people feel like they cannot express their feelings, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

 Suppressing emotions: Toxic positivity can cause people to suppress their emotions, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. When people feel like they cannot express themselves, they start to bottle them up, which can only be detrimental to their mental health.

It avoids authentic human emotion: Some people use positivity as a coping mechanism. Instead of confronting these difficult emotions head on, they sidestep all the feelings that make them uncomfortable.

Disregarding real problems: Toxic positivity can cause people to ignore real problems and challenges. When people are constantly told to be positive, they may overlook or downplay the significance of issues they are facing, which can prevent them from addressing those problems in a meaningful way.

Creating unrealistic expectations: Toxic positivity can create unrealistic expectations that are impossible to meet. When people are constantly told to be positive, they may feel like they have to put on a happy face even when they are not feeling well. This can lead to feelings of pressure, stress, and inadequacy.

Alienating others: Toxic positivity can alienate others who do not feel like being positive. When people are constantly told to be positive, it can create a divide between those who are positive and those who are not. This can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and misunderstanding.

In some cases, toxic positivity can even be abusive. Abusive people tend to dismiss, devalue, and minimize another person’s feelings. They may even use toxic positivity as a form of gaslighting. They downplay the other person’s experiences and emotions using positivity as an excuse.

Toxic positivity can have a number of negative effects on individuals and their mental health. While positivity can be helpful in certain situations, it is important to recognize that negative emotions are a normal and valid part of the human experience.

Being purely “positive vibes” can be grating especially during times of distress or pain. It prevents you from growing emotionally as a human being. It keeps you from gaining deeper insight on yourself, your emotions, and your experiences.

Signs of Toxic Positivity

The first step in avoiding toxic positivity is to recognize the signs. If you overemphasize positive thinking when talking to a loved one with a mental illness, you may be using toxic positivity. Even though your intention is to help them, this is ultimately harmful.

Telling someone to “just think positive” or “look on the bright side” when they express negative emotions is a sign of toxic positivity. It is important to acknowledge and validate someone’s feelings, even if they are negative.

Another sign of toxic positivity is ignoring or minimizing another person’s problems and difficulties. When people feel pressure to be positive all the time, they may not feel comfortable expressing their concerns or seeking help.

Blaming people for their negative emotions is a clear sign of toxic positivity. This can make people feel guilty or ashamed for having emotions that are perfectly natural. This will only make them hesitate to seek support.

People need space to be vulnerable and express their emotions, including negative ones. Toxic positivity can create an environment where people feel like they can’t be vulnerable or express their struggles.

At the end of the day, we cannot expect everyone around us to be happy all the time. Acknowledging negative emotions is a normal part of the human experience. Recognizing difficult thoughts and emotions will ultimately make you stronger.

How to Avoid Toxic Positivity

Now that you can recognize the signs of toxic positivity, you can focus on avoiding it and helping your loved ones face difficult situations in a healthy way.

Here are some ways to avoid toxic positivity:

Acknowledge and validate negative emotions: Instead of trying to immediately shift someone’s focus to the positive, acknowledge their negative emotions and validate their experience.

Encourage open communication: Encourage open communication and create a safe space where people feel comfortable expressing their emotions, both positive and negative.

Practice active listening: Listen actively and empathetically, without judgment or the need to solve the problem right away.

Provide support: Offer support and practical solutions when needed, while also recognizing that it’s okay to not have all the answers.

Avoid toxic positivity phrases: Avoid toxic positivity phrases like “just think positive” or “look on the bright side,” as they can come across as dismissive and invalidating.

Positive emotions are not bad. Pressuring yourself and others to only feel positive emotions, on the other hand, is toxic. By incorporating these strategies, we can create a culture of emotional authenticity and support, where people feel comfortable expressing their emotions and seeking help when they need it.

How to Support a Loved One Struggling with a Mental Health Problem

Aside from avoiding toxic positivity, there are plenty of other ways to support a loved one who is recovering from a mental health disorder. While supporting a loved one with mental health problems can be challenging, it can also be a very rewarding experience.

The first step is to educate yourself about their condition. Try to learn as much as you can about your loved one’s mental health condition. This will help you to understand their experiences, symptoms, and treatment options. This will also help you approach them from a place of understanding and compassion.

Create a safe space for your loved one to talk about their feelings and experiences. Be a good listener and avoid judging or criticizing them. Be a listening ear—but listen without judgment.

Once you have a clearer idea of what they are going through, ask your loved one what you can do to help them. Offer to accompany them to appointments, help them with daily tasks, or just spend time with them.

Finally, practice some self-care. Supporting someone with mental health problems can be emotionally draining, so it’s important to take care of yourself too. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, and doing things you enjoy.

Encourage your loved one to seek professional help. Offer to help them find a therapist or support group, and offer to accompany them to appointments.

Be patient and understanding. Recovery from mental health problems takes time and patience. Remember that they may have good days and bad days.

Look for a treatment facility near you today if you or your loved one is dealing with a mental health condition like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. This will give you an idea regarding the various treatment options and programs that are available.

author avatar
Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

Addiction Treatment Centers For
Drugs, Alcohol and Prescription Drug Abuse

Call Now