If hearing the word “positive” makes your heart skip a beat then congratulations, at least that means your heart is still beating. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that “positive” is the worst thing you can hear today, courtesy Covid-19. Just one word throws you into a string of thoughts and a series of “what ifs”, most of which are ironically, anything but positive in nature.
Moving away from the mass shared paranoia, lately there’s been a new kind of thought process found in a major section of the world’s population, which has been called “Toxic Positivity”. It’s true what they say, too much of anything is destructive. Toxic Positivity is a state of mind that believes that everything happening around oneself is right and that one is happy regardless of their circumstances. It encourages focussing on only the silver lining of situations and dismissing anything that has a potential of diminishing it. Basically, it’s a case of denial wherein an individual unconsciously distorts reality to fit their own mental state.
Let’s just say, living by this oxymoron can have catastrophic outcomes, especially in the long term. Denial, in the short term, may help in coping with the atrocities of life, but eventually suppressing negative emotions only leads to their proliferation and finally mental dysfunction. Constant positivity is merely a form of denial which has benefitted no one ever.
Lately, literally everyone can be seen encouragingly “values” such as “good vibes only”, “everything’s gonna be fine”, “this might be good for you”. These claims are not just baseless, they are actually damaging. They portray a kind of universe where nothing can go wrong and everything that happens is for the best, which is obviously fictional. And what people don’t realise is, by offering this kind of support, you are not only throwing a person into an unreal scenario but also making it harder for them to recover from the trauma experienced. Silencing their mental state by moulding it into what seems positive will only make them worse.
If you have ever found yourself hiding your emotions, feeling guilty for feeling something, adopting someone else’s perspective or simply “going with flow” no matter what life throws at you and believing that “it is what it is”, then you have experienced the bad side of positivity as well. Many times, people feel ashamed to accept their conflicts and find it more comfortable to dismiss or sugar coat their thoughts in order to hold up a strong face for the world. People feel like they owe something to others and rarely ever say or do
If you have ever found yourself hiding your emotions, feeling guilty for feeling something, adopting someone else’s perspective or simply “going with flow” no matter what life throws at you and believing that “it is what it is”, then you have experienced the bad side of positivity as well. Many times, people feel ashamed to accept their conflicts and find it more comfortable to dismiss or sugar coat their thoughts in order to hold up a strong face for the world. People feel like they owe something to others and rarely ever say or do anything that disrupts the status quo. But the truth is, sometimes you really need to put a pause on life and be there just for yourself. Because if you can’t own up to and embrace your issues, then any kind of support won’t matter.
Let us take a minute to acknowledge the fact that the universe isn’t perfect. It’s dark and shady and dangerous and sad. Things often don’t end up how we expect them to and we are allowed to whine and vent. We are not unconditionally happy beings. We cry, we scream, we get jealous and it’s completely normal and acceptable to express those emotions. Repression is the beginning of a disorder and should not be encouraged. It’s a just matter of time when all the negative energy that was dismissed earlier manifests itself into anxiety or depression which is much harder to get pulled out of. Yes, positivity can be toxic and accepting this truth is the first step of being a mentally healthy individual. Sometimes you just need to admit that the world is terrible and there’s no silver lining. Appreciating this truth of life and expressing the negative emotions in a socially acceptable manner will make an emotionally sorted person and keep toxicity at bay. The bright side may not always be the right way to proceed, but may simply end up burning you.