Now Reading
Why Toxic Positivity is Annoying and Harmful?

Why Toxic Positivity is Annoying and Harmful?

Updated on Jul 06, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

Toxic Positivity - Signs, Examples, Causes, Risks & More

Key Takeaways

  • Toxic positivity is based on false reassurance. It tells you to feel positive all the time.
  • It is meant to suppress and demean the real negative emotions that a person might be experiencing.
  • It involves setting a false belief or hope that no matter how difficult a situation the person might be in, they should hold on to the positives only.
  • Toxic positivity is usually given at the wrong time that makes someone feel bad. Thus. It gets annoying.
  • Toxic positivity can either be self-imposed or is given by someone else.
  • It makes someone pretend that everything is fine when in reality it is not so.
  • Toxic positivity can be overcome by embracing negative feelings as a part of ‘you.’

We all know that positivity and good cheer are healthy habits. Maybe, you have heard people giving endless advice and sermons on this. But, sometimes good vibes can turn sour and make you feel really bad. 

Maybe you are feeling real negative emotions, your heart is aching in pain and someone is telling you to ‘lift your spirits’ or ‘keep up the positive vibes,’ etc. Indeed this is toxic positivity.

You’re annoyed by hearing positive statements being forced on you, probably at a time when bad days are a part of your life. 

This concept literally attempts to deny your negative emotional setbacks. You’re forced to feel in positive ways at the wrong time and in an incorrect context.

Toxic positivity is an unhealthy vibe. It tells you to experience happiness and stay strong even in dire situations. 

Even when things are falling apart fast, you’re made to believe that ‘All is well”. You just need to keep a positive mindset.

In this article, we will discuss the warning signs of this unhealthy practice and how it can be stopped from poisoning your mental health.

Wade through more information……

Toxic Positivity Infographics

Toxic Positivity - Signs, Examples, Causes, Risks & More
Toxic Positivity – Signs, Examples, Causes, Risks & More
Toxic Positivity - Signs, Examples, Causes, Risks & More
Toxic Positivity – Signs, Examples, Causes, Risks & More

What is toxic positivity?

Toxic positivity is a shallow and false reassurance and words of hope given at the wrong time and inexact contexts. It lacks real empathy and is meant to defy real feelings of emotional pain. This condition also shows an overgeneralized way of being positive when nothing is going right in someone’s life.

Toxic positivity is a wrong dose of hope and optimism that is faulty and is given in an inapt context. It is meant to negate feelings of pain and suffering at a time when real negative emotions have taken a toll on you. 

The mechanism of toxic positivity tells you to stay strong, be hopeful, and dismiss your negative feelings. It feels like positivity is forced onto you. You don’t feel your true feelings anyways.

You are made to believe that no matter how tough the situation is, you should always hold on to the positive. Sometimes, toxic positivity feels like poison being poured into your ears when you actually need little empathy and compassion.

To be clearer, toxic positivity is a false reassurance that is given to dismiss feelings of distress and suffering. When real human emotions are suppressed, it may get really bad.

You are forcibly made to believe that ‘everything happens for a reason and you should accept things gladly. As if, you are not allowed to feel uncomfortable.

Toxic positivity stems from a belief that you should dismiss negative emotions and stop affirming them. By doing this, you can actually keep your negativity at bay.

However, toxic positivity can cause more harm than good. It undermines your sense of reality. When you do not affirm your true negative emotions, it becomes more hurtful.

The wounds and cuts get worse due to a lack of catharsis. Through this process, you are actually trying to silence negativity and displaying a false assumption that you are doing good, no matter how dire the situation may be.

If you force positivity in yourself when the feelings are just the opposite, you may end up messing up your mental health. It is not possible to show happiness all the time.

Research suggests that people who ghost their negative feelings may feel worse afterward. The negative emotions may haunt you till they are undone and resolved.

Toxic positivity doesn’t allow acceptance of negative emotions. It encourages suppression of ill feelings that want to get revealed. 

You are forced to see the bright side only, considering painful emotions as unreal and bad. In one way, toxic positivity denies real human experience.

The psychology behind toxic positivity

Sometimes, toxic positivity is self-imposed. For example – You have recently seen a job loss, yet trying to display that you’re fine and trying to be positive as far as possible. 

Here, you are trying to deny, nullify, and dismiss real emotional experiences.

On the flip side, toxic positivity can be due to external pressure as well. For example, You lost someone in your family and are in a really bad mood.

One friend of yours comes over and tells you something like this – ‘stay strong’, ‘move on with your life happily’, ‘keep up with the bad days’ etc.

The above statements are given to boost up your mood and make you feel better. But, this is indeed toxic. Why? Because it’s telling you to shut off grief and wear a false smile when it’s not possible at all.

Toxic positivity may not cause any intentional harm because in most cases it’s delivered at the wrong time and wrong dosage. It creates a mindset where false optimism replaces real negative emotions.

You are supposed to stay happy, be positive all the time. In times of extreme suffering and moments of dire hardships, you are told to keep up with positive vibes. Is that really possible?

Toxic positivity relies upon the overgeneralization of hope. It is a wrong attempt to make yourself or someone else happy when things are not actually good in life.

You are feeling pressure to stay positive and display a smiling face. Over time, toxic positivity gets worse. It tells you to suppress all the negative feelings. 

You are emotionally overwhelmed with grief and pessimism and may not know how to deal with them.

Internalizing negative emotions and failing to let go of grief and suffering can make you fall into despair forever. Thus, positivity is toxic and unhealthy.

What Toxic positivity is not?

Before we move on any further, it is important to highlight what toxic positivity is not.

  • Toxic positivity is not real empathy.
  • It’s false assurance and untimely words of comfort.
  • Toxic positivity is not genuine encouragement.
  • It maintains a false belief that you should always stay strong and positive-minded.
  • The practice warns you not to feel negative emotions.
  • It causes complete suppression of negative feelings.
  • It refers to rejection and denial of negative things in life when it’s very much real.
  • Toxic positivity is false optimism.
  • Toxic positivity tells you to stay positive at all costs and in every circumstance.
  • People feel that it is not heartfelt compassion.
  • Shuts negative emotions completely to the point of dismissing them.
  • Toxic positivity is not a real emotional connection with the sufferer. It is shallow and inauthentic.

Examples of toxic positivity

Nowadays internet and social media posts are flooded with examples of toxic positivity. Each and every one of us is getting overwhelmed with web stories and featured images of positive thinking.

Sometimes overdose gets harmful and remains undigested as well. We just need to choose positivity wisely. 

It is a fact that most people do not know how to shower empathy and words of compassion if someone is passing through misfortune. Sometimes toxic positivity is not done intentionally.

It is a messed-up way of telling others to stay strong in trying times. With toxic positivity, the aim is to make someone feel better but at the wrong timing and in an incorrect manner.

In most cases, the victim feels disconnected from reality. They may question whether their feelings are really worthy or not.

Toxic positivity devalues and demeans a person’s real agonies and thus it is referred to as toxic.

Some of the typical examples of toxic positivity are:

  • “Don’t worry! Things will surely get better soon.”
  • “Just be grateful for what you have, there are others who are suffering more than you.”
  • “Focus on happy thoughts.”
  • “Thankfully! You survived this bad phase. Now just chill. Things could have been worse.”
  • “Try to focus only on the brighter side of things.”
  • “You need to cheer up and stay strong.”
  • “Do not dwell on negativity. You’ll overcome the grief soon.”
  • “Always keep up with good vibes, no matter whatever may have happened.”
  • “Dust off negative thoughts; it’s all good around you.”
  • “You need to remain cheerful in times of failure. It makes you strong.”
  • “Optimism is the ultimate solution. You cannot feel like a failure. It’s not done.”

10 signs that you’re a victim of toxic positivity

Toxic positivity is all about seeing things in the sunshine and not rain. You are seeing things through the tinted glass and trying to dismiss real negative emotions.

Generally, having a positive mindset is a good habit. But, you are not expected to feel positive in every situation. 

Sometimes if you are busy seeing only the positives in life, it means you’re behaving in an inauthentic manner.

Toxic positivity makes you feel that the real emotions are bad and not worthy. You are forced to think and feel differently when you really do not want to.

At times, it is absolutely fine if you’re not okay. Just be who you are. You need to recognize the signs of toxic positivity before it gets worse.

Some of the signs of toxic positivity are as follows:

1. You’ll deny negative emotions

If you are experiencing toxic positivity, you will quite often deny negative emotions. You will try to ignore anger, fear, hatred, and disgust. It will be pushed down and you will show off that everything is fine. 

At times, you will wear a false smile and show that you’re happy. Your negative emotions will be replaced by happiness and false optimism that is improper and does not justify the real-life negative situation you are in.

2. Your authentic feelings will be dismissed

If you go on dismissing your true feelings, a time will come when you will be overwhelmed with pain and suffering.  

Bottling up negative feelings can make you feel worse over time. It can tear you from within into many parts that might need emotional healing.

Dismissal of negative feelings may lead to aggression, substance abuse, or poor interpersonal relationships. 

Your emotions need a free expression and if you are keeping them suppressed for a longer time, it may lead to several other mental health issues.

3. Feelings of guilt about the way you feel

Toxic positivity brings feelings of guilt and shame. You may feel ashamed about your negative feelings. When people keep pouring positive sermons in your ears, you may feel guilty for not harboring positive thoughts.

You may feel sorry about being angry, disappointed, or sad. Sometimes, your challenges and hardships may appear false, though they are real and authentic. 

The false reassurances have clouded your clarity and you may start believing the positive affirmations of others as real and start behaving accordingly.

4. You’re brushing off your problems

Toxic positivity can make you brush off real-life issues. It makes you hold onto false assurances and optimism. You will try to negate your negative experiences, problems, hardships as inauthentic. 

Maybe, you will push your negative emotions aside and see a silver lining in everything that you go through. No matter what you are experiencing you’ll start considering your tragedies as unreal and artificial.

5. Your true feelings get hidden behind positive quotes and sayings

If you are experiencing toxic positivity very often, you may find yourself hiding and masking your true feelings behind positive quotes from others. You will be forced to focus on happy thoughts, though you may find it extremely hard.

You will wear a false smile to show off that everything is fine and you are not in the grip of negativity and pessimism. 

These things can further reinforce toxic positivity. A time will come when your negative feelings will become redundant. The false positivity has masked your real negative feelings with your awareness and permission.

6. You do not want to look unhappy

Toxic positivity is meant to make you appear happy and hopeful, no matter what you are going through in reality. It doesn’t allow you sadness and gloom. 

You are expected to show your smiling face when you are with others. Sometimes toxic positivity may make you showcase a false self-image of a beacon of optimism.

As if you are not allowed to experience the hurts and wounds at all.  Others want you to stay positive at all costs. You do not have the liberty to realize your deepest feelings.

Toxic positivity is indeed harmful because you will always be under the burden of being perfect and flawless,

7. You may share only happy stories with others

Toxic positivity never allows you to share your pains and sufferings with others. Thus, you will get busy discussing happy moments, success stories with others. 

If you seem to discuss only happy stories and moments of pride with your friends and family members, be sure that you are in the grip of toxic positivity.

8. You move on with false assurances

People who suffer from toxic positivity may feel carried away in false hope in trying times. When they hear words of optimism, they may fail to realize whether their feelings are real or not.

They may find it tough to reflect on their feelings and just move on with the sayings and false hopeful words of others. Thus, they become unable to resolve and heal their negative emotions fully.

By doing so, the risk of mental health issues increases. The person may suffer from guilt, anxiety, and depression. 

Sometimes, substance abuse may become a part of one’s lifestyle because the person actually tries to overcome the suffering they never acknowledged openly.

9. You don’t like people who lack positivity

If you are already suffering from toxic positivity, you will hate to see others in pain. You may ask others to see the brighter side of life, to stay happy and cheerful even if they are finding it hard in reality.

This happens because you have internalized the process of toxic positivity fully. By chiding others for their lack of positive feelings, you are creating a spiral of false positivity around you. Maybe, others are also unknowingly becoming a part of it.

10. Natural emotions are fully invalidated

Toxic positivity leads to the invalidation of your real and natural emotions. When you do not accept and keep on denying your negative emotions, it gets invalidated. 

It creates a lack of self-awareness and a poor self-image. Your actual, genuine, and true feelings of yours are replaced with false optimism and upbeat happiness. 

Why does positivity matter?

A positive attitude is something that we look into with great honor and regard. It is also considered a key element for the success and accomplishment of life goals.

When you change your overall outlook towards life from negative to positive ones, you develop resilience. It means your ability to fight adversities increases manifold. 

In today’s competitive and fast-paced living, you’re expected to bring positivity to the table. It improves relationships, helps to better your performance at work as well.

Positivity strengthens your mindset and fills you with positive emotions. A feel-good factor works within you. You will be happier and can experience fulfillment and inner peace.

Some of the benefits of positivity are as follows:

  • It reduces your level of anxiousness and frustration.
  • Lowers feelings of gloom and sadness.
  • Improves self-esteem.
  • You will have full trust in your abilities.
  • Positivity brings fulfillment and inner peace.
  • You will be able to handle negative emotions in a healthy way.
  • It helps you to stay firm and strong in trying times.
  • It gives you greater resistance to chronic illnesses.
  • A positive outlook feeds happiness and inner joy.
  • You can let go of past pains and sufferings.
  • It boosts self-confidence
  • Positivity helps to eliminate negative self-talk and improves self-image.
  • Feeling happy and feeling good about yourself.

It is a known fact that when you nurture positivity, you can wade through tough times easily. But as said, too much of anything is harmful and can counteract the real purpose of positive thinking.

Here comes the role of toxic positivity. Positivity can become maladaptive if you become obsessed with optimism making it unrealistic.

Toxic positivity leads to emotional suppression. It leads to bottling up pains and suffering that need inner healing. 

Otherwise, the cuts may surface any moment later on in your life. You will not be able to fight the negative emotions at all.

Thus, positivity matters only to a certain extent. You need to take a call where to draw a fine line between real positivity and toxic positivity.

Causes of toxic positivity

From the above discussion, it is clear that being positive is healthy but if it’s too much and you try to negate your real negative feelings, it becomes a toxic positivity.

Many times you may find yourself in a situation where you are forced to wear a happy smile, even if you do not wish to. 

The actual reality doesn’t match with the feelings you are manifesting in the outside world. You are showing a range of emotions that are fake and don’t heal your inner world.

Have you ever realized or tried to understand why toxic positivity happens? Why do you need to feel and behave in ways that are disproportionate to the actual situation?

Let us see the causes of toxic positivity:

  • Toxic positivity is a learned behavior. Maybe when you were a small child, you were trained at home to feel good, stay strong, not cry, etc. 
  • You were taught by society to remain presentable and look happy all the time. Others fed you with positive words and hopeful statements that conditioned you to behave in desirable ways.
  • Expressing emotions looked like a sign of weakness. Thus, you should always feel good and stay strong, no matter what tragedy you may have gone through.
  • Childhood trauma and abuse may have caused the fear of facing your vulnerabilities openly.
  • Pressure from peer groups or colleagues to stay positive, otherwise, you may lose your social recognition.
  • Toxic positivity can occur if you are uncomfortable discussing negative emotions with others.
  • If you are an introvert or timid person, you may feel difficulty showing your real feelings to others. It may lead to masking or hiding your true feelings.
  • Toxic positivity is an unhealthy coping style. Since you do not want to malign your social image in front of others, you prefer to remain positive all the time.

At times, toxic positivity is delivered by an outsider. In such a case it may not be intentional. 

Your family members, friends, and colleagues may advise you to be happy and stay strong. They do this just to make you feel comfortable about the pain that you are experiencing.

But in reality, toxic positivity may turn poisonous for you. The constant bottling up of negative emotions such as anger, fear, grief, jealousy, and disgust harms your mental well-being. 

It overpowers your decision-making process. You may lose your clarity of thoughts and behave in ways that are not in tune with the real-life situation. 

Negative effects of toxic positivity

Toxic positively is called toxic for some reason. Thus, it’s obvious that it has some aftermath associated with it. It discourages the free expression of negative emotions. 

You should always try to maintain a balance in the amount of good advice that you imbibe from others. If it gets too much to be handled, toxic positivity sets in.

Toxic positivity leads to dismissal and avoidance of negative emotions. Thus it can have many adverse effects on mental health. Some of its negative impacts are discussed below:

  • Denial and avoidance of negative emotions.
  • Invalidating the negative feelings as unreal.
  • Grief, anger, sadness are deliberately suppressed.
  • Expression of emotions is dismissed because they are labeled as bad and unacceptable.
  • You may judge yourself as being wrong or faulty in some way.
  • Training yourself to think and act in pleasing ways.
  • Being hurt, angry, or in pain will never be discussed with others.
  • Toxic positivity leads to dissociation from reality.
  • It leads to feelings of intense guilt and shame.
  • You may always appear insecure and vulnerable.
  • You may hesitate to accept the true pain or suffering just to safeguard your social image.

Risks associated with toxic positivity

The negative effects of toxic positivity need to be dealt with as early as possible. You should learn healthy ways to resolve internal conflicts and feel free to express how you feel about an incident or situation.

Toxic positivity tells you to fake happiness. It suppresses negative emotions in such a way that it appears completely non-existent. And this impacts your physical and mental health.

A study done in 2013 showed that people who frequently suppress their true negative feelings are at a higher risk of developing chronic illness and even premature death.

When you do not allow yourself to feel in the usual ways, you may suffer from extreme sadness and grief as well.

The long-term risks of toxic positivity are –

1. Ignoring the real psychological harm

When you pretend to be happy and stay strong, you are doing more harm to yourself.

A narrative review of 29 studies on domestic violence has shown that people who suffered real-time mental abuse are showing habitual responses to staying positive.

They tried to underestimate the severity of their problem by saying that things would be fine in due course of time. 

Even toxic positivity led to false hope and they remained in abusive relationships. The false optimism and reassurances forced people to continue the abuse and escalate it to a great extent.

In this way, the victims of toxic positivity ignored the real psychological harm.

2. Demeaning the loss and tragedy

Feelings of grief and depression are normal responses in face of a tragedy or personal loss.

If you repeatedly hear false assurances and words of hope to stay strong and happy, you may feel that others are not bothered about your loss. 

For example, if you have lost someone dear to you recently and your close friend tells you to move on with positive vibes, you’ll surely start feeling bitter. 

Toxic positivity brings bitter feelings. You will not be allowed to feel your real feelings. In this way, the practice actually demeans and belittles the actual loss.

3. Social isolation

If you are always under the pressure to show off happy feelings always, it is obvious that you’ll not seek support from others. You will keep your pains and agonies to yourself only. 

This practice is harmful because it leads to social isolation. Maybe you will feel ashamed of your negative feelings, deterring you from discussing them with others or seeking help from mental health experts.

4. Poor self-esteem

The long-term risk of toxic positivity is poor self-esteem. Toxic positivity doesn’t allow the free expression of negative emotions.

You are always supposed to see the sunshine and rainbows, not the clouds and storms within you.

Slowly, this toxic process undermines your self-esteem. It makes you weak from within. When you know that what you are showing to the outer world is unreal, you may behave like a failure. You may feel that you have lost the battle with yourself.

5. Poor communication

Toxic positivity is a slow poisoning process. It encourages you to ignore life’s challenges. You will never be able to relate with others deeply because you are always pretending. 

This may impact your personal relationships. It destroys healthy communication and you may lose your power and ability to solve complex issues in life.

How to avoid toxic positivity? (10 helpful ways)

In the words of Tabitha Kirkland, a practicing psychologist and Associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Washington University, “True happiness doesn’t come from suppressing negative emotions and touting feel-good statements, but rather leaning into what we’re authentically feeling in the moment and accepting all of our emotions, both positive and negative.” 

In reality, you cannot feel good all the time. Negative emotions are as real as positive ones. Emotional healing from grief and suffering can happen by accepting the negative emotions as real and original.

Suppressing difficult emotions and not letting things out can cause dissociation from reality. It means you lack the ability to see what’s authentic. 

If you are a victim of toxic positivity or recognize this maladaptive positivity in yourself, try out certain constructive ways to beat toxic positivity. 

However, at times, you might need medical advice from a mental health professional to overcome the problem fully.

1. Start with journaling

If you are stuck in the rut of toxic positivity, you should start writing down your negative feelings and their associated triggers. Through writing, you are actually giving vent to your bottled-up emotions.

Journaling helps you to realize that your emotions are real and authentic. You are not in any need to invalidate them. Through journaling, you will pour your deepest fears, agonies, and insecurities on paper.

Journaling helps in awareness. It makes you trust your negative emotions as they are. You won’t get busy ignoring or dismissing them if you know that they are real and need to be felt deeply.

The reality journal also relieves your emotional burden. It allows you to sort through various experiences of your life. When you reflect on the negative emotions, they appear real and pave the way for healing and recovery.

2. Stop denying your negative emotions

The best way to overcome toxic positivity is by accepting your negative emotions as they are. Feel them, heal them and live a better life. 

Suppressing negative emotions can cause emotional wear and tear. You will not be able to feel what’s real. 

Thus, it is best to cry, yell, shout, whenever you are under the grip of negative feelings. Let it out and feel at peace with yourself.

3. Do not expect to always feel good. It is unreal

Accept the fact that negative emotions are as real as positive ones. There is no need to feel good in trying times. 

You should learn to take the pressure off you. Bottling up emotions may turn worse in due course of time. It is unrealistic and you may suffer from more pain than before. 

Stay away from positive messages that appear unreal at that moment. People may give you endless advice on good cheer and positivity but it’s up to you whether you want to follow them or just put a deaf ear to them.

4. Meditation

These are relaxation techniques that improve self-awareness and relieve stress. Meditation is a form of mindfulness. It helps to improve concentration and allows you to be present in the moments of life.

This technique helps to remove unhelpful thoughts. It allows honoring negative emotions. You will learn to live with the negative emotions and validate their existence. There is no dismissal, no denial.

Research has shown that accepting negative emotions leads to emotional cleansing. Mindfulness meditation is highly helpful in treating anxiety and depression.

You’ll be able to remove the pent-up toxins that were bothering you for a long time. Meditation allows full acceptance of negative emotions without a desire to change.

5. Practicing Yoga

Yoga is an ancient meditation technique that allows inner peace and happiness. It improves self-awareness and connects the body-mind in one place.

The regular practice of various yoga mudras helps muscle relaxation. 

You will be allowed to feel inner peace. It’s an ideal way to connect with oneself and accept negative feelings as it is, without denying them as non-existent. 

Yoga also involves guided meditation techniques that may help you experience the vast array of emotions that one can have. The outcome is complete acceptance of what’s real.

6. Practice self-care

When you learn to take care of yourself, you actually become more aware of your inner world. Here, self-care means physical fitness and mental agility.

Pay attention to your health and follow a healthy lifestyle to keep stress at bay.

Chronic stress reduces resilience and makes you weaker and broken from within. Thus, you may get swayed by false reassurances and faulty optimism. Toxic positivity can be overcome if you know what to choose and when. 

Good self-care includes healthy habits such as regular exercise, having healthy food, good sleep, etc. You should develop a hobby to unleash your potential. 

All these improve resilience to fight adversities. Thus, you may not require the sweet talks and false-positive vibes of others to accept the way you’re. 

 7. Support groups

To keep toxic positivity at bay, you can join the support community of like-minded people.

Regular discussions on realistic positive thinking may help to analyze what you need to do in times of adversity.

Being a part of a support group is always powerful. It offers validation of negative feelings. The like-minded adults may show real empathy to each other. These groups remind you that you are not alone. 

Support groups can help reshape your thoughts and feelings.  You can modify your feelings and accept grief and suffering completely.

In this way, even if you are getting exposed to toxic positivity, you will not allow it to overwhelm you.

8. Express all emotions, both good and bad

It is vital that you express your emotions as freely as possible. Suppressing or dismissal of emotions may put you in more agony. 

Try to identify your feelings and express them without any inhibitions. You will have to recognize that intense emotional responses are a part of you.

There is nothing wrong with the way you are feeling in times of distress. Just avoid ignoring them and feel free to accept them as they are.

 Sometimes unconditional acceptance of negative emotions helps in healing the ugliest wounds. You will surely feel much better at that moment.

9. Recognize messages that support toxic positivity

Toxic messages are direct and simple. They are meant to dismiss your real agonies. Thus, it is not difficult to recognize these messages. 

When you see people using over-generalized positive statements while you’re facing a problem or tragedy, be sure that they are trying to negate your negative feelings.

You should stay away from positive statements that sound unreal because it means lacking empathy and kindness. 

10. Be wary of social media

Social media tends to portray a perfect picture of us. It never shows the real suffering of people.

Life is looked in through the rose-tinted glass and the real-life struggles, hardships, misfortunes, and sufferings are all ignored and dismissed.

Thus, you may think that all others, except you, are handling their negative emotions positively.

You need to be cautious of the social media influencers who may post toxic positivity pictures, quotes, and slogans all over the internet.

These people target specific people who may be fighting odds in life. The toxic messages of positive feelings are aimed at dismissing the real-life hardships of others. 

You should safeguard yourself from toxic positivity as much as possible, just to self validate who you are.

Relationship between toxic positivity and gaslighting

Toxic positivity is a form of unintentional gaslighting. The process involves distortion of reality. When a person tries to remain strong and positive even in dire situations, they are actually questioning their sense of reality. Gaslighting also does just that. It distorts the victim’s sense of perception.

When a person suffers a loss or a tragedy; all that they want is patient ears and a compassionate heart. They want someone to tell them that what they are feeling in such a tough time is absolutely fine.

But toxic positivity does just the opposite.

False-positive statements such as “It will get better, don’t worry”, “Keep up with your positive feelings”, “Focus on what you already have, don’t think negative stuff only” can actually turn sour pretty early.

Sometimes these sayings can backfire and make the victim feel worse than ever before. When someone is stressed out, sad, or disappointed they need real empathy, not fake smiles and false assurances.

Maybe they are in deep pain and do not want to see things through the colored glass. They want to feel real emotions and toxic positivity is trying to distort their sense of reality. 

Thus it acts as a gaslighting technique and makes the person feel that their emotions are not real. They should think and feel in different ways.

Toxic positivity is a poor form of compassion. It is a false belief that makes the person dismiss their real feelings. For the victim, the negative emotions may feel like a burden.

There is a time and place for everything and positivity is not an exception. Positivity will be appreciated if it is directed with real empathy.

When positivity is meant to deny and dismiss the pains and sufferings of someone, it becomes toxic. 

Toxic positivity is a form of gaslighting because it denies reality, distorts what is real. It also makes the person fall into self-doubt.

So the next time, someone comes and tries to cheer you up in the wrong time and incorrect situation, just tell them politely that you’re fine with your negative feelings.

Take a moment and feel the way you want to. 

Toxic positivity in the workplace

In workplaces, toxic positivity may cause mayhem. The practice of forcing positivity on employees or colleagues can dismiss real emotions. Toxic positivity aims to disregard authentic feelings. Thus, the victim feels unheard, misunderstood, and avoided.

If you have ever hit a problem in your workplace or lost your job, or didn’t get the much-awaited promotion, you must have seen that others try to comfort you with some positive statements.

Some of these positive words are good to hear but harsh to digest in reality.

People who become victims of toxic positivity in the workplace feel the worst. Toxic positivity is not genuine encouragement. It’s empty and lacks empathy. Thus, the person feels unheard and unseen.

When someone is in a dire situation and is really feeling low and depressed, you cannot tell them positive words that are fake and unreal.

Maybe the person needs authentic connections. They need someone to lean on for emotional support.

Toxic positivity fakes happiness. It is a belief that no matter how tough it is, someone should always keep up their spirits. In reality, this is absurd. 

If someone is upset and you start with toxic positivity, it could mean that you’re telling them that their negative feelings are all wrong. They shouldn’t express themselves freely.

When toxic positivity dominates a workplace culture, it makes employees feel tied up. They are not allowed to express their true feelings. There is no one to hear their grievances.

Thus, everyone appears artificial and fake. A toxic culture develops inside the work setup where everyone gets busy showing up what’s not real. Many fake happy faces keep moving around.

Thus, there is no trust, no real expressions, and no empathy. All these can affect business decisions as well. People lack the honesty to be who they are.

The video link given below shows the signs of toxic positivity and why it’s harmful. Do check out.

Toxic Positivity Statistics

Toxic Positivity Statistics
Toxic Positivity Statistics (Sources – Science of People, Healthline)

Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’

Toxic positivity is not genuine empathy. It is a form of unhealthy cheer and encouragement given at the wrong time. 

It is a way to put a positive spin on all situations and experiences, even those laden with grief and worries.

In the real world, both positive and negative things happen. We should accept life as it is and not the way we want. 

Highs and lows will always be a part of our existence, maybe without which our life may appear unrealistic.

Toxic positivity is genuinely annoying and offensive at a time when real negative emotions take a toll on us. 

Being positive at all costs is not an option to resolve life’s varied issues. It is not helpful, rather can turn out to be immensely destroying.

Thus, be who you are and feel your real emotions, no matter what the world tells you to be like.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”

Henri Nouwen

Article Sources


Scroll To Top
We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.
Privacy Policy