If you’ve ever been around someone who seems a little bit too happy, that no matter what happens, they always put on a smile and tell you how okay it will be, or if you want to find comfort in a friend only for them to turn around and be just a little bit too nice after your life falls apart, you could be experiencing toxic positivity.
So let’s define toxic positivity
It’s exactly how it sounds: Toxic positivity is being so positive that no other mindset is possible. It’s being positive in a problematic way that closes off the negative aspects of life. While this mindset can be a breath of fresh air, a comfort you weren’t expecting, sometimes people need to be told how it is and plan for how we can get through it. Ignoring that fact and being reinforced to stay happy, that’s where the problems arise.
Positivity has never been as necessary as it has been now. 2020 saw the world enter one of its darkest stages in a very long time, many of us weren’t and still aren’t allowed to leave our homes for much more than the essentials. Thousands across the world have died, lost their loved ones or jobs. Every single one of us is looking for some sort of respite from it all. But is being positive for the sake of it the answer?
The argument around toxicity
To look adversity in the eye, ignore it and remain positive no matter what takes immense skill. So many of us probably do not possess such a thing and yet, we may all know of at least someone that does. Our moods are strange things, sometimes we can be so motivated, so happy and want to do everything we can to succeed, other times we may just want to eat ice cream and watch Grey’s Anatomy. The point is, moods fluctuate, they change and form who we are. Sometimes, things don’t go as we plan, and it requires some lateral thinking to get back on our feet, sometimes all hope is lost and it takes a while to build ourselves back up. That’s the way so many of us operate, we get knocked down and build ourselves up again, ready to fight that next challenge, setting goals and making sure that defeat goes a little differently next time.
Or you could be overly positive. In a world where sadness is not an option, and you are highly motivated all of the time, where adversity doesn’t affect you because you are the highly motivated, happy individual that has never felt anything go wrong or the hopelessness of a plan going against the grain. That’s what it is to be overly happy, and it’s a way of thinking that has more impact on us than we’d realise.
Studies have shows that thought suppression is real and has a real detrimental impact on the way we think about our lives. That person telling you not to worry and be happy, is actually making you worry about that thing a whole lot more. Especially now, as so many of us grow increasingly conscious of the pandemic and the issues that surround us as people, that person saying it’s all going to be okay might really get on your nerves. Even more so, is it sustainable to live in an overly positive fashion? Humans are volatile, we react in a way that is natural and upon reflection is how we learn to cope. There is a time and a place for positivity, sometimes we want to be happy and be proud of our achievements, we share good times, make progress and learn when to switch off and enjoy our lives, just like there is a place for the negative stuff, it’s about balance.