Toxic Positivity 6 Ways You Can Deal With (and Avoid!) it

By Tatenda

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Last Updated: December 20, 2022

How often do you go through social media and come across comments such as...

  • ‘Hang in there’
  • ‘You simply need to leave the house’
  • ‘Don’t give up’
  • ‘Things could have been worse’...

...under a post where someone had shared a negative experience? 

In abstract, there is nothing wrong with such comments.

But, there is something wrong when these are used to dismiss the negative experience one is sharing. Social media is loaded with toxic positivity where some people live in a world where nothing bad or negative happens. To them, it is positive vibes always. 

As the name suggests, toxic positivity refers to the over-the-top and excessive promotion of positivity. Typically it also involves ignoring or neglecting the presence of negative and unpleasureable emotions. 

If you are like me and social media is a big part of your life, there is a great need for you to be mindful of the material you consume and actively ensure that it does not do you more harm than good.

Below are some tips you can use to deal with and avoid toxic positivity. But first things first... 

 

 

This is What Toxic Positivity Might Look Like: 

  • Minimizing issues and not giving them the attention they need
  • Shunning all negative emotions
  • Using comparison to help you see that things could be worse
  • Hiding or ignoring your feelings 
  • Invalidating others’ feelings
  • Not accepting the possibility of failure
  • Denying the existence of negative things
  • Strongly believing that everything happens for a reason

 

 

6 Tips to Deal With Toxic Positivity

1. Acknowledge its existence.

The first step is realizing that toxic positivity exists.

There is a lot going on in the world at large, and most of us look for positivity everywhere we go. This might hinder us from realizing the existence of toxic positivity. Once we open up to the understanding that it exists, it becomes easier to identify and avoid it. 

2. Journal.

While trying to stay positive, you might find yourself numb to negative emotions. This is definitely not good for us because all the emotions we feel as humans are important, and ignoring them tends to do us more bad than good. 

When you journal, you allow yourself to let everything out of your body onto a piece of paper.

This means all your thoughts and emotions, positive and negative, are given attention and validated. Writing how you feel allows you to evaluate your feelings and adjust your behavior or interactions as you see fit. 

3. Get comfortable with discomfort.

Avoiding discomfort at all costs is one of the trademarks of toxic positivity.

The reality is that discomfort is part of life, and we need to be comfortable with uncomfortable situations at some points in life. Rather than trying our best to avoid experiencing any discomfort or negative emotions, we should accept their existence and actually allow ourselves to feel them. 

4. Try yoga.

When I initially got the idea of trying yoga, I thought it was something I couldn’t do as I was not flexible enough. I thought it was all about twisting and moving your body in these amazing ways that were impossible to me. I was wrong. 

Yoga is largely about paying attention to all aspects of yourself and finding and maintaining balance. It helped me get in touch with some parts of my inner self that I had no idea I could reach. It helped me realize and acknowledge my emotions, even the uncomfortable ones. 

There are several free guided yoga sessions that can be useful for beginners. 

5. Be mindful of your social media use. 

If you notice that using social media is causing you more damage than good, there is nothing wrong with cutting down your social media time, blocking and unfollowing certain accounts.

You might miss those accounts at first, but over time you will appreciate the breath of fresh air and the ability to actually feel your emotions without restriction. 

6. Talk to a therapist.

Sometimes we need a bit of extra help.

Thankfully therapists are well-trained to help us understand and normalize the diverse pallet of emotions we feel as humans. A therapist will help you identify any patterns that you might have, their root causes, and how to deal with them. 

There are several online platforms, such as Do mental and PsychologyToday, that you can use to find a therapist. Moreover, some therapists also offer online therapy, so there won’t be any need for you to leave your house if you don’t want to. 

 

 

Avoid Toxic Positivity

In a world where having negative emotions is viewed as a weakness, it is easy to buy into toxic positivity.

However, once you are able to identify your emotions without any social lens, it is important to stand your ground. 

We all have bad and good days. If you feel sad about something, do not let anyone’s opinion snap you out of that sadness. Feel it, and when the time is right, you will move on from it. Toxic positivity is dangerous. It keeps everything underneath, and makes it even harder to cope. 

Surround yourself with people who acknowledge and respect your emotions, and do the same for others!

Photo by Andre Furtado

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