The Horror Of Toxic Positivity: Why Positive Thinking Can Be Harmful

The Horror Of Toxic Positivity: Why Positive Thinking Can Be Harmful

Psychologist Brock Bastian believes accepting messy feelings paves the way for better mental health. Believing that avoiding bad experiences and seeking “positive vibes only” is a good idea can make us incapable of coping with negative experiences when they occur. The truth is life is filled with challenges, obstacles, and hurdles that lead to success, happiness, and satisfaction. Failure is a vital ingredient of success, so it is important that we know how to deal with failure, believes Bastian.

Why toxic positivity is bad for you

If you are still in doubt about the toxic effects of overestimating positivity,  then here are some of the prominent reasons why toxic positivity is harmful for you:

1. It makes us feel shame

Shame and guilt are undoubtedly unpleasant feelings and can be significantly paralyzing to our mental and emotional health. Forcing yourself to be positive makes you hold on to your uncomfortable feelings and stay silent about what you’re struggling with internally. None of us want to look weak, so we pretend that our life is going perfectly fine. We act like we are okay even though in reality we are not. 

When we deny and hide our emotions, it leads to a crippling sense of shame and guilt. Shame feeds on secrecy. This in turn makes us feel even more weak and affects our mental and emotional well being further.

The Horror Of Toxic Positivity: Why Positive Thinking Can Be Harmful

2. It suppresses our true feelings

Studies {3} have found that denying or hiding our emotions can result in additional stress and anxiety. It can even make it more difficult for us to avoid unpleasant thoughts and distressing emotions. Psychological studies {4} have revealed that suppression drastically reduced expressive behavior in both pleasing and uncomfortable situations. Thus, avoiding your real emotions and suppressing thoughts and emotions affects our quality of life and how we express ourselves in different circumstances.

The fact is expressing a wide range of emotions and showing how we feel through words and expressions enables us to better manage our stress response. It helps us remain sane, mentally healthy and release stress and anxiety caused by suppressing emotions.

3. It makes us isolated and unapproachable

As we start denying ourselves of our true emotions, we become unauthentic and artificial with ourselves and others around us. We lose the sense of who we are and our relationships with our inner selves become strained. As we portray a different version of ourselves to the world, people become disconnected with us. We become unrelatable to others as we desperately try to appear perfect socially. The truth is no one is perfect. 

When we portray a false image of being positive and perfect, we become unapproachable to others. We unintentionally isolate ourselves from our friends and family and even ourselves. This affects our relationships and connections as people think they only have to be positive and happy around us. In the real world, none of us are happy all the time. By creating a fake persona of toxic positivity, we push our loved ones away from us and attract fake & superficial relationships.

Here’s how to overcome toxic positivity

Whether you are spreading or receiving toxic positivity, the first step to get out of the toxicity is awareness. When you recognize you are participating in fake positive thinking, you can start to overcome it by acknowledging the truth. Accepting your true emotions and reflecting on your real thoughts will enable you to respond consciously, cope with difficult emotions honestly, build mental resilience and lead to long-term happiness.

When you recognize and accept your reality clearly and understand that it is okay to feel sad, you can finally start experiencing the complete human experience.

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Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts