What is Toxic Positivity?
Maybe you have heard the term toxic positivity being thrown around on occasion and wondered what this buzzword means. Toxic positivity, or a positivity trap, means that even in the worst situations, you should have a positive outlook and display a smile and upbeat attitude even if that isn’t what you are feeling on the inside. People can show signs of toxic positivity intentionally or unintentionally. However, the concept remains the same as the person is still rejecting the negative emotions and playing up to the positive emotions to an extreme extent.
As a brand that makes memorial jewellery and hears from many people about their experiences with grief, we recognise that sometimes expressing positive emotions can help people cope when they don’t have the mental space to deal with their feelings in the present moment. However, the problem comes when people only allow themselves to be optimistic and pressure themselves or others into ignoring their negative emotions.
In this post, we will discuss the signs of toxic positivity, why it should be avoided and how to avoid acting in a toxic manner towards yourself and others.
Signs of Toxic Positivity
The signs of toxic positivity can be hard to spot. However, understanding how to recognise these signs can help you identify the behaviour in yourself and those around you.
- Ignoring problems, or refusal to discuss negative ideas.
- Feeling guilty when you experience negative emotions such as anger or sadness.
- Feeling the need to mask your true feelings in front of others. This may also result in exhaustion when you are not with others or a sense of needing to hide to conserve energy.
- Brushing off others’ feelings.
- Not accepting others when they display negative emotions.
- Trying to tell others to change and show fewer signs of negative feelings.
Why Should You Avoid Toxic Positivity?
Toxic positivity misrepresents genuine emotions. Avoiding showing your anger or sadness can lead others to react differently around you and struggle to feel connected to you. Therefore, it can be challenging when you eventually want to talk about your struggles with others, as they may find it hard to connect the outward presentation of yourself and your negative emotions.
Showing toxic positivity around others who are not feeling positive can also be toxic and lead to mistrust in relationships. This makes it harder for your friend or family member to come to you in times of need, in the fear their negative emotions will be rejected.
How to Stop Displaying Toxic Positivity
Avoid saying harmful things towards others or yourself, such as ‘positive vibes only’, ‘well it could be worse’ or ‘just focus on the good’. These statements, although brief, can have a long-lasting impact on someone’s emotional state and invalidate their feelings.
When talking to others, try and be there for them if they need someone to listen and reserve judgement. For example, instead of saying ‘well, every cloud has a silver lining’, try saying, ‘I’m sorry to hear things have been difficult for you recently. I’m here to listen.
When experiencing tendencies of toxic positivity towards yourself, allow yourself to express how you genuinely feel and try not to put on a front towards others, even though this can be challenging at first. The main thing to remember is that your feelings and emotions are valid and rational responses to your external world. Some people also comment that mindfulness and confiding in close family and friends or seeking support from a professional counsellor can help.
Show Support to Loved Ones in Other Ways
Often toxic positivity can arise after a significant life event, such as losing a loved one. When you experience feelings of bereavement and go through the stages of grief, it can be challenging to cope, and you may find yourself accidentally displaying toxic positivity as a coping mechanism. However, it’s more important to recognise when you show these traits and know why it’s important to avoid toxic positivity. If you struggle with your emotions due to grief, you or your loved ones may benefit from some Fingerprint Jewellery, Handwriting Jewellery or Ashes Jewellery where you can wear this item to remember that it is ok to feel sad. Photo jewellery can also help you remember that you are not alone.