Toxic positivity manifests in ways that may seem helpful at a particular moment but are false reassurances in the long run. You can be at its receiving end or contribute to it yourself.
This exchange encapsulates how toxic positivity can stir up guilt, shame and inadequacy.
Statement: "Work has been so stressful lately."
Response: "You're lucky to even have a job."
When offered to someone who is struggling, these statements brush off difficult emotions.
- "It could be worse, like what happened to my relative."
- "It's good to look on the bright side."
- "At least you didn't stay in the hospital long."
- "Keep praying because God has a plan.";
- "Everything happens for a reason."
Being told to feel a certain way pushes an individual to hide or disguise moments of weakness. In addition, the pressure to present a false sense of positivity makes it difficult for people to seek help or support when they need it because of the fear of judgment or rejection.
Recognising that everyone experiences a range of positive and negative emotions encourages individuals to take charge of their mental wellbeing.