What Is Toxic Positivity? 3 Reasons Why Always Looking at the Bright Side Could Be Damaging to Relationships & Emotional Health

What Is Toxic Positivity? 3 Reasons Why Always Looking at the Bright Side Could Be Damaging to Relationships & Emotional Health

It's important for human beings to experience both positive and negative emotions.

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We come across certain situations in our life which require a positive outlook. But not all of them need you to feel the same emotion. Let's take the pandemic for example. Most of the people have experienced the loss of jobs, loneliness, mental health problems, frustration, financial issues, and much more.

Through all of this, we've come across some of the posts like, "if you don't come out of this pandemic having learned something new, then it's a waste," or "just change your outlook to be happy.”



Now all of these make you feel like what you're feeling is not right. You should be happy and positive all the time, like all these people on social media, otherwise, it means you're lacking somewhere, right? Wrong. While positivity is an admirable trait to have, too much of it can be dangerous. That's when it becomes toxic positivity. Let's learn more about it.


What is toxic positivity?

According to Healthline, toxic positivity is where people are made to feel that positive thoughts and actions are the only solutions to every problem and emotion. As clinical psychologist Dr. Jaime Zuckerman of Pennsylvania explains, “Toxic positivity is the assumption, either by one’s self or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset or — my pet peeve term — ‘positive vibes.’”



Toxic positivity deems negative emotions as a bad sign. According to Carolyn Karoll, a psychotherapist in Baltimore, Maryland, this kind of positivity can put people under "pressure to appear ‘OK'" and make them feel like they're "inadequate or weak" when they experience any other emotions that do not match with positivity.


It can be of many forms. It could be your friends telling you “be grateful for what you have” when things didn't turn out well or it could be your family member asking you to “look on the bright side” after you lost something precious. Or even someone telling you to "cheer up", however well-meaning they may be, when you're clearly not in the mood to cheer up.


But as harmless as it may seem, it affects your relationships, mental and emotional health directly. You might not even be aware of what kind of difference the toxicity of extreme positiveness is making in your life.

Why is it harmful?

There are many ways in which positivity can be harmful:

1. You start suppressing your emotions which is not a good sign. As human beings, we are blessed with feeling scared, angry, lonely, frustrated but when all of this is bottled up with the veil of happiness, it tends to harm you emotionally, according to Science of People. It might make you feel mentally strong momentarily, but all the suppression shows effects later in life when nothing feels alright.



2. You start feeling shameful about your feelings because when you compare yourself to others, they seem to be thriving in happiness. According to The Psychology Group, in author Brené Brown's books, she teaches that usually, silence, secrecy, and judgment are the reasons most of us feel ashamed. When we hide something from others, it leads to that uncomfortable feeling. In the same way, when you hide your emotions from yourself, you're cheating yourself off of every other intense emotion that you should be enduring.


3. When you start hiding from the truth, you automatically lose connection with your true self. Because of the new attitude, you might portray an emotion that nothing can bother you, but inside you're still a person who appreciates long meaningful talks and warm hugs. Holding back feelings and the gradual isolation makes you disconnected from others as well and so, no relationship that you get into excels as you imagine it to. All you're left with is fake happiness and friendships without meaning.


So is it okay not to feel "Okay?"

Absolutely! It's necessary to let your mind and body feel both positive and negative energies or thoughts to feel normal, reports HuffPost. According to Heather Monroe, a clinical social worker, and director of program development at Newport Institute, “Practice gratitude for what you do have, but also be honest and express what is bothering you, like missed celebrations or worries about the future..."

Shunning them would only increase your mental stress than reduce it. According to Psychology Today, emotions guide people to understand if the feeling that they're experiencing was due to a meaningful deed or not. For example, if you feel underappreciated after you do something special for your partner, it means that you put your whole heart into it and it wasn't given much value. This would help open other problems that need to be unboxed and checked on.


So, let your emotions go crazy because nobody in this world is sane enough to be the perfect person who doesn't experience anything but joy and happiness. We're all aware life is not just rainbows and unicorns, it's got some lemons here and there too and all us, are on the same boat.