What toxic positivity can do to you and how to tackle it

Why are we not allowed to feel the uncomfortable emotions, discuss them openly and honestly with integrity of acceptance to attain better physical and mental health?

By Mohita Shrivastava

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Published: Thu 26 Jan 2023, 10:18 PM

Positive attitude or optimistic approach is a key to move along with the challenges we continuously face in our lives. The ‘think positive’ attitude, no doubt, helps us to preserve our desirable thoughts over pessimism. We also often hear idiolects such as ‘have a positive outlook’, ‘be optimistic’ from our friends and family, particularly when a situation is hard, or circumstances are not cordial. Do you think that ‘having a positive outlook no matter what’ works for our mental health and well-being? The simple answer is ‘no’. If a particular situation is not sustainable or harmonious, then why are we often advised by others to stay positive? It is because a concept known as toxic positivity has been embossed in our minds as the only righteous virtue. Toxic positivity is a belief system that forces us to maintain a positive outlook and discard any negative feelings, no matter how bad the situation tends to be. It welcomes frequent untrue positive cover-ups and dismisses true expression of feelings or emotions. On a pragmatic note, we all experience painful emotions, feelings of disgust, being cheated, blamed or humiliated — a kind of gaslighting response. So, why are we not allowed to feel these emotions, discuss them openly and honestly with integrity of acceptance to attain better physical and mental health?

What it does


1. It dumps our genuine emotions by blocking the actual support one is looking for to cope with the situation

2. It shuts down the realistic and pragmatic thoughts about a disturbing situation and amplifies false reassurances


3. It shelves our true feelings ­— creating a false narrative of reality and loads one up with blame, fault, and disgust

4. It leads to feelings of guilt and shame, curtails our confidence, lowers our drive and motivation for life

5. It leads to psychosomatic troubles like headache, pains, gastric butterflies, anxiety, worry, depression, fear, etc.

6. It often leads one to stop acknowledging their true feelings and prevents psychological well-being

How to tackle it

• Do not phantom your emotions and feelings to haunt you later, instead allow them to flow and resolve

• Do not let others to bolt you with positive affirmations intentionally or unintentionally

• Understand that trying to pacify someone in their grief or anger can cause alienation and disconnection

• Put a quell on toxic positivity by explaining to others what exactly you are looking for at that moment instead of welcoming their impractical ‘positive’ advice

• Make what you want or seek from others clear and set their emotional mindset as per the situation

• Jot down your negative emotions during hard times and do SWOT analysis

• Talk to a relevant person or try creating an amicable situation that can be resolved, if possible

• Manage your intense negative emotions by mindfulness or through nurturing your hobby but don’t block them from popping up

• Understand that positivity and negativity are two aspects of life. Sometimes, it’s a golden shiny sun and sometimes it’s cloudy. Accept both

• Understand that ‘not every hard situation needs a silver lining’.

The bottomline is: Sometimes, it is ‘positive’ to be ‘negative’.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com



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