What is toxic positivity, and why exactly is the "good vibes only" mantra harmful to your health?
Toxic positivity is the belief that no matter how difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. This can be incredibly harmful, because it creates a pattern of denial of any negative emotions - and bottling up these feelings can cause memory issues, anxiety, depression, and high stress.
In this week's episode of How 2 Deal, we're breaking down toxic positivity and sharing exactly why negative experiences are important to growth.
[MUSIC PLAYING - BRITNEY SPEARS, "TOXIC"]
- I'm addicted to you. Don't you know that your toxic?
- Today, we're going to talk about toxic positivity.
- I feel really depressed.
- Have you tried smiling, or laughing, or going outside?
- Toxic positivity involves one focusing on the positives and only the positives in life.
[MUSIC PLAYING - PHARRELL WILLIAMS, "HAPPY"]
- You are taught that, if you want to have a happy and fulfilled life, you need to bottle up anything that is perceived as negative and pretend it doesn't exist.
- Your job is to make sure that all the sadness stays inside of it.
- This can be harmful, because it creates a pattern of denial and invalidation of the emotions that we associate with negativity, such as anger, sadness, and jealousy.
- Humans are meant to feel emotion. And if we deal with the negative ones, the positive ones will be stronger. Remember that before you tell someone--
- You're feeling depressed? Oh no. You just have to count your blessings.
- Good vibes only.
- Well, you should be happy.
- Simple responses usually aren't the right antidote for bigger feelings.
- Of course, these isolated statements aren't toxic positivity. But when you continue to approach our negative emotions with these statements, it starts to create a pattern.
- I'm fine.
Who else is fine? Because, really, I'm fine.
- Too much positivity can actually be bad for your mental health.
- It can cause memory issues, as well as anxiety problems. It can lead to depression and higher amounts of stress. A 2013 study by the University of Rochester and Harvard School of Public Health, it was found that people who bottle it all up and inside have a 70% higher risk of getting cancer and a 30% higher risk of premature death.
- Oh, my God, it's a slaughterhouse.
- It's OK to not be OK.
- Positivity and gratitude don't belong in every single moment that you exist.
- This type of shit completely invalidates the complexities of human experience.
- It often discourages other people from processing their emotions in a healthy way.
- Oh, my God, you have depression? It really sucks that you haven't chosen not to have that.
- Because deep down, at the end of the day, you know that things aren't good. So in your conscious mind, you're going to essentially that you're lying yourself.
- Hakuna matata?
- I can't just hakuna matata through my life. I need to actually deal with shit that I need to deal with.
- That's just an unrealistic outlook on life. We need those negative experiences to learn and to grow.
- Don't try to control how other people feel. Honor where they are standing. Say, you know what? I feel you.
- How can I support you? What do you need?
- I see where you're coming from, and that makes perfect sense to me.
- We don't want anyone to ever be there for too long, but sometimes, we need to be in that sadness for a little while. We need to feel our feelings.
- The key is acceptance rather than avoidance.
- Honor your true feelings. Work through whatever is bothering you, so then you can get to a true state of happiness and gratitude.
- Validate those feelings.
- Just make space for them to be human, and that's how you can really share love.
- Bad vibes are definitely allowed here.