Toxic Positivity is the excessive, overactive and ineffective expression of a happy mood during ALL aspects of life, and cutting to the chase, it minimizes the value of the natural flow of life, and the authenticity of the emotional human experience.
This kind of behavior is often performed when we are not feeling our best, but pretend that everything is okay, in an effort to deny that something is NOT okay. Withdrawing from dealing with your emotions trough an unreal and excessive positive behavior is TOXIC.
There is no strength to be found when suppressing your real emotions. Instead, being realistic and experiencing your real self can take you a very long way. When something is wrong, that doesn't mean it will affect all other aspects of life - this will only happen when you alow space for it. By suppressing your thoughts and feelings you sabotage your own emotional healing / dealing process which will affect you worse in the long term.
Let me share a more personal example with you...
If something is wrong in my personal life, I still need to carry the best version of myself at work, especially because of the nature of my profession. My professional choice to me a Holistic Massage Therapist & Bodyworker trully brings joy, bliss, and balance in my life, and naturally becomes my escape. On the other hand, carrying a Toxic Positive attitude i.e when they ask me "how are you?" , if I reply "better than ever" while I'm not, it in turn dehumanizes me, and gives the wrong impression of a super human experience. Very often the power of energy is inevitable so someone may feel that you are off, and this fake response will lead to a negative experience for my client, as they will question whether they are wrong to share their worries with me, or if them worrying is useless and/or pessimistic. So I prefer sharing my truth which is "whatever is wrong, helping you will help me" 🙃
Enlightment does not take place when the sun shines, but when you accept your troubles and take action. Authentic Positivity is a virtue that can be omnipresent if your values are in place, when you live proactively, and when you are trully aware and mindful and make positive acts to help people/other living creatures in need. It is hard, I know, but it is the best way to live the game of Life. Even if you don't agree with the ways I believe you can achieve Authentic Positivity, I can assure you you won't find it behind words or impulsive behaviour 😌
How could one deal with Toxic Positivity?
Being Positive in a realistic way it means you can also take in consideration other important qualities when dealing with a trouble such as Hope, Validation, and Determination. All these qualities do not guarantee a positive and instant outcome, but can surely guarantee a pleasant and blissful ride into dealing with your troubles.
Some good and effective examples I found for you are :
Instead of saying "You'll get over it" you can say "It's hard, but I believe in you" , instead of "Don't be negative", you may say "it's okay to feel bad some times" , or instead of saying "it could be worse" you could actually be present and offer real help "Sometimes life is unfair, how can I support you?"
Very often trying to find words to make someone feel better is an instant option that and will be quickly surpassed by the reality of things. You could instead celebrate the human experience and actively offer your help by trully listening, think what would make you feel better if you were on the other side of a story, and by giving alternative options, you may be able to offer a more permanent and hopeful solution.
How I have experienced Toxic Positivity during the Pandemic
Toxic Positivity is something I came across at work with some of my clients. Usually these people are not affected financially by the pandemic, therefore their train of thought is not driven by survival instincts and as a result, their approach is not as humain. Exactly because they are not financially affected, they become more emotionally involved as observers and fall in the trap of spreading Toxic Positivity in their effort to help. On the contrary they expand the idea that all negative emotions are inherently bad, and that feelng distress makes you defective.
As a small business owner, I cannot magically eliminate the stress and imbalance that the pandemic brings as our expenses are a real thing to deal with. However you will not catch me wine about it, but I will speak my truth, always. I can surely turn my worry into a creative, innovative and useful process, such as this article, go back to my art which I missed so much, practice Yoga and all the good things we all love but always question that we don't have time to do. I advice everyone daily to do the same and hold on to it after the pandemic even if it's at a much slower pace.
When did I receive a Toxic Positivity and why? I was asked "how do you deal with the pandemic?" and when I expressed my worry to some people about having to ensure that my rent is paid and only worked 5 days in 2021 is where I was shocked. I felt this because what I got back was "no way, you are such a positive person" , "ok" , "No wa". To be precise, the problem here is not if someone will choose my services as thankfully my services were fully booked and only tried to make extra space to please everyone. The message I want to bring to the surface is that if you are trully not ready to give a human response when you ask someone "How are you?" Then don't offer to ask. I never see anyone as a batch of 💶 but living in Balance and have a successful business is a vast combination of things, and when this combination is not an option, this doesn't mean I am obliged to offer positivity to you no matter what. I choose to be real, useful, and non toxic. Living in an instant pleasure driven world, I choose the slow and deep way to experience life. Even my schedule at work is programmed so we can have time to have a real chat, a real one, where I am also a human, not your toxic positive injection 💉
I hope you choose and expect the same from and to everyone, since a positive outcome can only be achieved by a collective effort and cannot be rooted with impulsive behavior!
One of the first and most loved quotes I used in my work (Bodywork) "What you resist, persists" is trully valid in all other aspects of life, not only your physical health. Avoiding the experience of emotional discomfort will eventually cause you more harm!
Lastly, I would like to make sure you realize that the other end of the extreme would be to excessively blast your worries verbally in a Toxic matter such as "it's the end" or "I can't do this anymore" which 99% of the times is once more not your truth, but your quick fix. My final advice is to try to be mentally flexible so to be able to spread more Grounded Positivity and less Toxic Positivity or Pure Negativity.
I hope you find this article useful, and would be happy to receive your opinion of it.
Written 10/1/2021 - first day of 2021 lockdown.
Thank you for reading,