By Chandi Patel
Let’s first of all say…positive vibes and positive thinking is the pathway to happiness in life no? But, is too much positivity bad for us?
What is this new term of toxic positivity and how can we avoid it?
Toxic positivity is an obsession with positive thinking, it’s a belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences in life. However, Toxic Positivity can be silent, negative and painful when people feel under pressure to pretend they’re happy even though they are struggling inside.
What does this mean? It’s self-imposed. People lean towards positive thinking as a coping mechanism to help improve their overall mental well-being and assume this will help solve solutions to their problems. As it’s an invisible force it’s not genuine, which means people can demonstrate fake kindness and a sense of positive thinking to help avoid sharing their problems and challenges to others.
Why do we act like this? It’s an inauthentic happiness known as ‘cold or hot’ empathy gap. It refers to people’s inability to emphasise with how they would act or behave in a way to their own experience and emotional state that is different from the one they’re currently experiencing.
The empathy gap refers to people’s inability to empathise with how they would act or behave if they were to experience an emotional state that is different from the one they are currently experiencing.
There are 2 different forms of toxic positivity:
1) Contagious Toxic positivity- you can experience from someone or give to someone.
2) Self-imposed Toxic positivity- inflicted on yourself through yourself.
Research shows, more than 75% of people have said they sometimes, often or very often ignore their emotions in favour to being happy. Have you experienced this?
This approach is damaging because it discounts and discredits emotions that are not positive. Toxic positivity can be described as rejecting, denying, or displacing any acknowledgement of stress, negativity, and possible disabling features of trauma.
Furthermore, by defining toxic positivity as the constant encouragement and excessive tendency to only see the good side of something and failing to understand the emotion that accompanies the experience.
The 5 Danger Types of being too Positive:
1: The Negative Jar build-up – ever seen Jack in the Box where you twist the handle, and keep twisting the handle till the jumping clown pops up and scares you. Well that’s what the negative jar refers too. Experiencing a bundle of thoughts and feelings all at once will eventually become too full where the negativity WILL find a way to come out leading you to feel emotionally unstable. Allowing the negativity to build up and grow will become more damaging for you. This can lead to tendencies of negatively-blocking your true feeling and emotions as well as isolation and self-withdrawal.
2. Invisible friend – There are two types of friends: Bad weather friend and Fair weather friend. The bad-weather friend has your back during the tough moment, up’s and downs and the one you can rely on.
The Fair-weather friend is the one who sticks around during the good times and leaves you as soon as you got a real problem. They will advise you positive words like ‘cheer up’ or ‘you got this’ but low-key they are saying – don’t bring those bad vibes my way. They may be seen as a friend by spouting words of positivity but they won’t show sympathy or compassion towards how you’re truly feeling.
3. Fake Positivity – Ever been in a conversation where you open up and the other person has to respond in a positive outlook by smiling and making a cheerful comment like ‘cheer up, it will be okay… stay positive’. Those are the sort of signals which will trigger your brain in thinking negative as you just experienced fake positivity. Fake happiness disturbs us for a reason as real emotions are hard to fake. It all comes down to a person’s body language and the way they present themselves.
4. The Convince Ones – This group refers to those who express sadness onto others through expectations. People actually felt sadder when others expected them not to feel negative emotions leading to higher levels of depression. We’re all social creatures who rely heavily on social expectations. Ever been to a party and someone approached you saying ‘this party is amazing right!?’ and your response is ‘yeah, it’s the best!’ but what you’re really thinking is… ‘uhh not really… the group of people, music and food isn’t my current vibes’. This is called our social conditioning, where we live in a society, where we have to match everyone’s positive energy and vibes which can become overwhelming and cause you to feel sad as you can’t match the same as others.
5. Over-Killed Positivity – Ever came across that one person who is always or shall I say overly positivity in everything they say. Like Bree from Desperate Housewife who was always positive no matter what
is thrown at her. Those individuals are the one who are suffering in silence who have to constantly feed themselves the positivity into their life in any given situation just to make them feel ‘normal’.
Overall, we all know positivity isn’t harmful for us but when positivity is forced to cover up or silence the human experience, it becomes toxic as positivity is an emotion such like we experience pain, worry, heartbreak or fear. The best approach to managing your mental health is to focus on meaning. Nowadays, people focus on the outside of happiness through materialism. But switching your mindset to finding the pursuit of meaning will embrace you in living a happier and healthier life as you begin to find the fuel to a meaningful life.
I hope this read helped inspire you to turn your life into a more purposeful journey in finding your authentic happy self.
Thank you very much for reading,
Chandi Patel is a mental health blogger, podcaster and YouTuber, living in the UK.