Ahh, the good old forced positivity! Often referred to as “toxic positivity” and boy has it really become a thing, especially during these crazy times.
In preparing for this post, I realized that even I have been guilty of doing this to myself and others. Definately something I will continue to be mindful of. But if I have ever done this to you guys, either through conversation or my content, I want to take a moment to say I am truly sorry. Forced positivity can do more harm than good and it needs to be thrown in the garbage! The more I think of it the more I mentally roll my eyes LOL
So, What is forced/ TOXIC positivity?
According to The Psychology Group, Toxic Positivity is,
The overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state that results in the denial, minimization and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experienceThe Psychology Group
In simpler terms, it’s faking the happiness and the optimism when you’re feeling the very opposite of that and in turn, you avoid feeling the real, negative emotions that come naturally during an unpleasant time.
And I get it, I’ve done it . . . but that ish ain’t healthy man!
FORCED/ FAKE POSITIVITY IN REAL LIFE
What tripped me up the most about this is that you could be guilty of it without even realizing at times. Forced positivity can present itself in even the smallest ways and can look like:
- You avoiding the negative emotions you feel, from a not so great situation, in an effort to “stay positive” or “move on”;
- Responding to a difficult situation – or someone else’s difficult situation – by saying things like, “it could be worse” , “look on the brighter side”, “everything happens for a reason” ” it will get better” and in the process, minimizing your/their very legit emotions;
- You feeling guilty for feeling your negative emotions because you think you’re not being a positive person ;
- Shaming or criticising others for expressing their not so happy emotions and passing them off as an overall negative person.
Because God forbid you feel anything other than positive…. Please Linda, give us a break! No one asked for you! – I honestly don’t even think I know a Linda but you get me HAHA!
what’s really happening when you fake happy
In a nutshell, forcing “positive vibes” during an obviously painful or difficult situation is harmful to your mental health. Like for real…whose idea was this even??? This pandemic especially, has people feeling anxious, in grief, under financial pressure due to job loss and the list goes on. It’s tough no doubt and some days are better than others when it comes to coping with all of that.
And while it’s one thing to be positive… as human beings, it really is impossible to be positive all the time when life is full of highs and lows…think of it. You’re there trying to avoid every bad emotion and guess what happens….
You suppress these emotions and never allow yourself to deal with them and let them go. Everything is then bottled up and builds up because you never confronted the situation that triggered those emotions, nor the emotions themselves. That build up then leads to things like shame, anger, anxiety and even depression. Now you’re a real life unhappy, bitter person. Like c’mon! What did the fake positivity even help with?
SIMPLE WAYS TO avoid faking positivity
It’s okay if your’e not okay or happy 24/7. You’re human and that is part of being a human – you’re therefore not expected to be happy all the time. So here are some simple ways to break this harmful and unhealthy habit:
- Feel the feels, sit with the feels, pray about those feels and allow it to pass on.
- Talk or vent about what you’re feeling with a trustworthy friend/ family member/ your therapist
- Write it out on a piece of paper or in your journal
- Be a listening ear to others and understand that you don’t always have to give unsolicited advice
- Be weary of your response to someone you’re being a listening ear to – try not to invalidate their feelings
Here are some helpful guides, from Science of The People on avoiding toxic positivity:
Excessive positivity and excessive negativity – both unhealthy. Just be human and allow yourself to feel your feels and then let them pass on.
Have you ever been guilty of forcing “positivity vibes” onto yourself or others? How have you been trying to break out of this bad habit?
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As always, to God’s blessings, prosperity, faith, happiness and love!