In this podcast (episode #546) and blog, I talk about the negative effects of “toxic positivity”, and why we don’t have to be happy or positive all the time.
Although this may sound counterintuitive, too much positivity can be toxic. It can harm people who are going through difficult times, and make them feel ashamed for experiencing normal human emotions like sadness, grief, depression, anger and so on. If someone is made to feel that things have to be positive all the time, then they may think that if they feel bad in some way, there must be something wrong with them, which can exacerbate their mental distress at a time when they need support and community.
Indeed, rather than being able to share genuine human emotions and gain unconditional support, people who are faced with toxic positivity often feel that their feelings are dismissed, ignored, or invalidated. The pressure to maintain a facade of happiness and perfection can contribute to mental health issues, as we may feel compelled to hide our own struggles and vulnerabilities when we need help or support.
Toxic positivity also affects the personal growth we all need to do as humans. Thinking things must be positive all the time can lead to the avoidance of facing more painful emotions, which is part of life and helps us develop and grow as humans. Facing challenging feelings is an opportunity that can lead to growth and deeper insight, which is an imperative part of our self-development.
Moreover, trying to think positive all the time and not expecting bad things to happen can leave us unprepared for the realities of life. It’s good to “hope for the best but plan for the worst”, as life always changes. It is good, and healthy, to expect undesired change and acknowledge it when it happens.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we should be unhappy all the time either. Life is about balance! The desire for a “good” life can be a strong motivator for personal self-improvement and goal-setting. It can also encourage us to strive for success and happiness. Indeed, striving for happiness, personal growth, and satisfaction is a fundamental human aspiration.Additionally, the expectation of goodness can promote resilience by encouraging us to overcome challenges and difficulties to achieve a better life.
At the end of the day, it's essential to recognize that life is a mix of ups and downs. A balanced perspective is one that acknowledges that hardships, setbacks, and negative emotions are a natural part of the human experience. Striving for a "good" life is admirable, but it should include embracing and learning from challenges, failures, and imperfections. Realizing that personal growth often emerges from adversity can lead to a healthier, more authentic, and ultimately more satisfying life!
For more on toxic positivity, listen to my podcast (episode #546). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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0:30 Trying to be positive all the time can impact our mental health
1:05 It is okay to feel unhappy or sad!
4:38 How toxic positivity can impact our relationships
5:30, 7:41 How toxic positivity can impact our self-development
6:20 Trying to be positive all the time can impact our ability to heal mentally
8:18 Why we need to hope for the best, but plan for the worst
9:30 Toxic positivity & medicalizing misery
14:44 Toxic positivity & mental health issues
16:50 Why we shouldn’t be unhappy all the time either!
This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.