it could all be much worse”. “Be happy with what you have.” Toxic positivity starts with well-intentioned advice like this. Feelings are suppressed, anything negative is downplayed. Only good vibes are allowed. You’ve probably given such tips yourself or heard them. But what’s so toxic about that? Well, it’s because it’s (unintentional) gaslightning . That sounds harsh, but it really is like that. Because this way your feelings are ignored and not allowed in the first place.
Toxic positivity and the catch
Examples of toxic advice and better alternatives
not like that: other people got it much worse.
but like: This is really bad and I’m sorry that you experienced something like this.
not like that: just don’t think about it.
but like this: You’ve got a lot behind you and I understand why you can’t get it out of your head.
not like this: think positive and get over it!
but like: What can I do to help you?
Better to offer real help than empty phrases
I think behind such toxic advice is mostly ignorance or disinterest. It’s easier to say than to really listen and offer help. I also believe that some people suppress so many strong and negative feelings in themselves that they can’t accept them in other people either.
A positive attitude does not rule out bad feelings
Of course it helps in life to have a positive attitude. But it is just as important to allow the full range of feelings, because that way we can also keep the balance between happiness and unhappiness much better. Suppressing something has never been a good permanent solution. That’s why sometimes positivity can be toxic.
How about you, have you had any experiences with “Toxic Positivity” and what do you think about it?
In the end, the phenomenon of “toxic positivity” is about the fact that the positive basic quality is decisive for life. It is basically only focused on positive things and everything that is negative is rejected directly. The catch is that if you consistently suppress and don’t allow your negative feelings , they will magnify. It is actually very important to notice all emotions. The painful as well as the good feelings.
I once had this one friend who advised me to take everything easy and that I should be happy because I am doing so well. That was his answer to everything. Other friends often come around the corner with empty phrases that are supposed to cheer me up.
If I’m feeling bad and the answer I get is how good I actually have it, it always has one effect on me: I feel even worse. I feel neglected and ungrateful. I don’t want anyone to cry with me or encourage my bad feelings. Just that I’m accepted and taken seriously. I have summarized a few examples!