Chronic Cheerfulness: 5 Reasons Why Toxic Positivity is Dangerous

By Reniel

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Last Updated: December 27, 2021

Toxic positivity is when you dismiss negative feelings even in situations where it is okay to grieve or mourn.

It is essentially an obsession with optimism, whereby you believe that people should have a positive perspective all the time.

Even though being optimistic is good, overdoing it can negatively affect your mental health. Toxic positivity can alienate you from reality and leave you under pressure trying to appear happy while you are not.

For instance, losing a loved one can be a profoundly tragic experience. Grieving when in such an overwhelming situation is emotionally acceptable. 

However, toxic positivity will deceive your mind that everything is okay. Instead of affirming your emotions, toxic positivity dismisses them. As a result, you probably won’t seek the social support you need to overcome the emotional pain.

In a nutshell, toxic positivity is:

  • Feeling guilt for being sad
  • Ignoring your problems
  • Reciting positive quotes in tragic situations
  • Dismissing the negative feelings of other people
  • Hiding your negative emotions

 

The Difference Between Healthy Positivity and Toxic Positivity

Healthy positivity is the act of responding to hurtful situations and life challenges by focusing on the good, hoping that things will get better.

While at it, you do not overlook the negative emotions. If need be, you can cry and grieve before searching for solutions for your predicament.

According to a 2018 study, positive thinking can help improve mental health. College students involved in the research were found to have a reduced risk of suicidal thoughts and gestures, thanks to their positive outlook on life. 

Healthy positivity lowers stress levels, boosts self-confidence and self-esteem, improves cardiovascular health, and increases physical and emotional wellbeing. Research also shows that people who embrace healthy positivity are willing to seek social support when faced with various challenges to help them cope.

Conversely, toxic positivity might seem genuine until it takes its toll on the victim’s mental wellbeing.

Instead of affirming their negative emotions and seeking help, toxic positivity imposes the wrong solutions. For this reason, patients struggle emotionally, eventually ending up in depression.

 

5 Risks and Dangers of Toxic Positivity

Toxic positivity is a mindset that can adversely affect your mental wellbeing, subsequently leading to stress and depression. It can also break down your relationship with your friends and loved ones. 

Here are some of the dangers of toxic positivity.

1. Prevents growth

Life is about facing obstacles and overcoming them.

Going through challenges might be good for your personal growth and professional advancement. However, if you ignore your feelings and problems, you may not learn how to solve them, denying you the chance to grow.

2. Destroys communication

Toxic positivity encourages victims to dismiss the emotions of other people.

This can lead to a communication breakdown and eventually destroy your relationship with your friends and loved ones. It also limits your ability to solve issues facing your relationship with others.

3. Lowers self-esteem

You may not know this, but toxic positivity is an avoidance mechanism.

It deceives your mind to avoid facing your problems and instead be optimistic in all situations. However, failure to maintain a positive outlook even in adversity may come back to haunt you and eventually lower your self-esteem.

4. Promotes isolation and stigma

Toxic positivity can alienate you from others and leave you under pressure trying to appear happy while, in the real sense, you are not.

As explained by the American Psychiatric Association, people who mask their problems avoid seeking social support. You may feel your emotions are not valid or are unacceptable, subsequently affecting your mental stability.

5. Disconnection from reality

Toxic positivity has a way of disconnecting you from reality.

Instead of acknowledging your challenges and finding solutions, toxic positivity encourages victims to ignore their problems. According to a 2020 study, people experiencing abuse often underestimate the severity of the situation because of toxic positivity, opting to remain in abusive relationships.

 

Combatting Toxic Positivity

Dealing with toxic positivity can be complicated if you do not know that you are a victim of this obsessive behavior.

Fortunately, you can learn to combat toxic positivity by:

  • Recognizing that negative emotions are part of human experience
  • Acknowledging negative emotions rather than ignoring them
  • Cultivating self-compassion
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Being realistic about your feelings
  • Listening and showing support to others
  • Expressing your emotions in a constructive way
  • Seeking social support and professional help

 

Takeaway

Having a positive perspective of life is good for your health and mental wellbeing.

However, some people take it too far and choose to remain optimistic even in situations that call one to embrace and acknowledge their negative emotions. 

Being too optimistic (toxic positivity) can be detrimental to your mental health.

It disconnects you from reality and can prevent you from seeking the psychological help you need to overcome life’s challenges. With that said, setting boundaries and learning how to respond to tragic experiences without going overboard can help you keep toxic positivity at bay!

Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

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2 comments on “Chronic Cheerfulness: 5 Reasons Why Toxic Positivity is Dangerous”

  1. This is so true. When I talk of my issues, people keep telling me that I am always negative. Must be positive. On the other hand, I have never turned down whenever anyone expresses their feelings to me. I keep it to myself an do not spread the word elsewhere. Going thru so much has made me more compassionate towards others. In reality, my one family does not want to hear a word from me.

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