Toxic positivity

“You are full of negativity. You need to change your outlook.” And you start thinking something is wrong with you. You need to change your attitude towards life. The idea of positivity is so oversold that anybody who tries to confess anything thinks twice. There’s always this fear of appearing negative in this world where everybody’s Instagram is filled with sunflowers and copy pasted ‘positivity’ quotes. If the problem is really with the outlook then why do we still hear stories of suicides?

Toxic positivity affects many of us without our realizing it.
Toxic positivity affects most of us without our realizing it.

Let’s say I just got rejected after an interview for my dream job. What this world has taught me is that if I cry, I am a loser, for real. If I view this as an opportunity to get better, then I am a winner. And who doesn’t want to be a winner? So, I choose to be a winner. I start working on myself the next day thinking I will nail the interview probably next year.

Let’s say I just got fired from my job because I wasn’t good enough. The positivity rule tells me to be a winner. So, I choose to be a winner.

I have been a winner all my life. But honestly, I don’t feel like one. What’s wrong? Where did I go wrong? I followed all those sunflower people’s Instagram posts on positivity. Why do I feel like shit? This thought kept me up till late for nights. Despite getting excellent grades all my life, getting admission into one of the best colleges in my country and pursuing an internship at a reputed institution, I was feeling there was something wrong.

I came across this idea of toxic positivity on Youtube. Here, I would like to put a word of caution. I am still new to this idea. I am just sharing my understanding on this subject as I feel this really needs to be talked about.

Toxic positivity is kind of like a misinterpretation of what being positive really means. When you are being too hard on yourself, when you do not let yourself acknowledge that you are not okay, when you jump to start all over again without taking a pause to reflect what went wrong, when you live in this delusion that you are being strong by not reacting to things that actually affect you, you are inviting toxic positivity in your life.

The worst thing about it is that it affects mostly those who wish to portray themselves as content, independent and strong. So, the seemingly strongest of the bunch might actually be the ones who need help the most! They do not like to be pitied upon. They do not express themselves much. This leads to repressed emotions. This is wrong on so many levels. This affects their mental health bit by bit. This is scary because they appear strong on the surface, as if they never needed any help in their lives. But they are the ones who are the most helpless because they have this constant fear of losing their image as cool or strong. Sometimes, they will help others by empowering them with their cool words when inside they are equally messed up. I have been there too. What eventually happened was that there was literally nobody whom I could show my weaker side to. Even I grew distant with my own emotions. And this lead to sudden outbursts of anger. To the other person, I might have appeared as someone who cries at little things or gets angry for no reason. I admit I am a highly sensitive person. But there was a lot going on inside me when everything looked fine on the surface.

I believe this is partly because we misunderstand the meaning of positivity and partly because there is so much hype about it everywhere (when people don’t even fully understand it). We are human beings and we are bound to feel things. We need to acknowledge how we feel. We need to express ourselves and reach out for help if needed. Nobody is perfect. Let’s not forget this. It has become almost essential to sort out our emotional lives nowadays.

But most importantly, let’s not judge someone who tries to open up about his/her situation. This is almost like having double standards. On one hand we post stuff about positivity to appear kind to the world. On the other hand, we just simply ask the person to change his/her outlook about the situation, as if it were really that easy. Sometimes, a person just wants to be heard and understood.

3 thoughts on “Toxic positivity

  1. Oh, nice post! You’re so right in that we can be too positive, almost to the point of feeling plastic and hollow. I like this idea in some way that we are all winners but also losers too. And it’s okay to lose at times, to help us get better, to learn. There will always be someone better than us, someone more advanced, and with better things, but that doesn’t mean we’re not good enough. And it’s okay to feel high and low. This is natural. To not feel them would be to be a robot, and “toxic”, I think, too. Great words you have put here!

    Liked by 1 person

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