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Toxic Positivity: Keeping the “Good Vibes Only” Approach

This pandemic situation has taken a toll on everyone’s life. Many people lost their jobs, loved ones, and faced long periods of uncertainty. Whenever you expressed any negativity, people kept reminding you to “stay positive or “It could be worse.” It was also asserted that at least you have a job, a roof over your head and still breathing. 

Toxic positivity stems from the fact that no matter how difficult a situation is, one should maintain a positive mindset. It's widely seen as the "good vibes only" approach towards life. And while there are many benefits of following this approach, it rejects difficult emotions in favour of a cheerful, often falsely positive perspective.

It’s very atypical to be affected by toxic positivity, and there are things that one can do to develop a more healthy approach towards life. Some ideas include:

It’s ok not to be ok 

Acknowledging what one feels and feeling all the emotions, whether good or bad, will help alleviate the discomfort. Just sitting with them could be helpful as avoiding how one feels will only prolong the discomfort. This doesn't mean that one should act on every emotion that one feels. It is crucial to sit with them and give them time and space to process the situation before taking any action. One can even express it by writing or maintaining a journal. It’s good to talk and express how you feel. One has to give that permission to unwind and do something imperfectly, which is very human.

Listen to and validate how others feel

Often others' experiences and feelings differ from ours as everyone perceives the situation differently. Everyone is entitled to their feelings. Therefore, don’t shame another person for their emotions. It’s crucial to listen and acknowledge that others may not cope with things the same way you do. Let them know that what they are feeling is normal and you are there for them to listen and support them.

Remember that feelings aren’t mutually exclusive

It is widely believed that Healthy positivity acknowledges authentic emotions. It rejects the either/or mindset and believes that two opposing concepts can be true simultaneously. You can feel good about something yet also get worried about the same. For example, It is completely fine to be sad about losing your job and yet be hopeful that you will find a new one soon.

Recognize the messages that exhibit toxic positivity 

These messages are very natural and are used often. They include -“Positive vibes only,” “Choose happiness,” etc. If the statements mean that positivity is the only way to move ahead in life, that is problematic and should be altered. One can feel bad too about situations if they are difficult.

Filter your social media accounts 

Filling up your Instagram with only “positive” social media accounts can sometimes be a great source of inspiration that will lift one. But one also has to pay close attention to how one feels after viewing that content. Sometimes too much of such content can bring up only a sense of shame and guilt.

One needs to realise that this happens because people only post the rosy side of their lives. As a result, social media leaves an impression that everyone’s life is better off than ours and how wonderfully one handles those hard times. People rarely post their flaws or shortcomings out there. Therefore, one has to utilise critical thinking skills and adopt a realistic perspective towards the representation of how people are dealing with the pandemic with one’s reality.

It is possible to stay optimistic even in the face of new challenges and experiences. But people going through trauma don’t need to be told to stay positive or feel that they are being judged for not maintaining a sunny outlook towards life. Toxic positivity is often subtle, and undeniably we’ve all engaged in this type of thinking at one point in time. It is important to recognize it and be mindful of the statements that we use.

The need of the hour is to be emotionally healthy, mentally stable, and critical thinking skills. You can achieve the holistic wellness level you always longed for. The in-depth screening of your mental health will aid you in exploring the areas you need to work on and improve in the ways you react. You can also access self-help tools or book a session with a therapist to help you work on the skills and broader domains. The earlier you reach out, the better you feel.