October 20, 2021

Are we practicing more Toxic Positivity? : Sanjeeta Regmi

Sanjeeta Regmi , Freelance Writer , MA Psychology (TU)

We, as human beings, well civilized social creatures on earth have always learned the value of being positive. We do not feel pleasant to keep our mind in a chaotic state so we choose to be positive. Trying to be positive and the statement ‘go with the flow’ has always been our only remedy to avoid negative situations. But have we ever thought that being sad and frustrated is also a part of our emotional characteristics being a human? Have we been reminding ourselves that trying to be away from negative thoughts and pushing them away actually doesn’t make those thoughts disappear for a lifetime?

We have always been hearing from our family, friends and dearest cousins to be positive and avoid negative feelings when we feel sad. Whenever we try to reach them out with our problems we keep hearing ‘stay positive in the negative situations’, ‘Think positive’, ‘always look at the bright side’ and a lot more. Very less of us actually are conscious about pros of having negative feelings. Now this can be understood as a toxic positivity. Toxic positivity believes only in the positive mindset ignoring person’s emotional pain or any sort of difficulties a person has been going through. It is fantastic if a person can stay positive from within dealing with his/her negative feelings and thoughts. However when you are being forced to stay positive all the time ignoring your negative emotions then it becomes toxic. Probably this is the reason people are seen cheering up on social medias with the captions ‘good vibes’ and ‘ positive vibes’ posting their best face photos and rarely posting their sad days since only positivity is entertained. This ultimately promote toxic positivity even in the social media. A person who has been down-hearted and discouraged the whole day, after watching photo in the Facebook captioned with ‘positive vibes only’ by his friend, will now start feeling even discouraged thinking that he is the only sad person in the planet. This is how toxic positivity rounds in the circle.

It is Okay not to be Okay sometimes

Being human, we have diverse emotions. We get happier when we are praised, we feel sad if we are discouraged. We become furious and sometimes jealous. Some days are so hard that we won’t be able to control our tears but does it symbolize our weakness? I do not think so. Feeling like screaming out of pain is completely fine. Besides, what not fine is, trying to be positive even when you feel like you are having completely negative days. It is totally okay not to be okay sometimes. Everyone on earth cries. Nobody has lived fully satisfying life since we human are tagged as an unsatisfied creatures. Just seeing your friends cheering up with #TGIF does not mean your emotions are not valid. You can cry with your pillow, and skip your routine. You can cancel your friday night out at the last moment. If you are feeling over-whelmed, you can permit yourself to have a full day off doing nothing. You should not force to be positive and spread the toxic positivity rather take some time to understand your feeling, sit and talk to yourself and deal with them if you feel like doing it. It’s okay not to be okay sometimes but it does not mean holding on the same emotion for too long with the grudges and sadness is good. You must communicate to your emotions and take some time to feel okay again.

It is not necessary to have goodness in every day. Sometimes living a day, not necessarily good or bad and having clean breath is all we can do. So, validate your emotions. Stay with all of your emotions. Do not feel guilty and wrong when somebody forces you to be positive and you fail to do so. Having negative feelings and sadness is never the sign of fragility. It does not indicate weakness. Embrace your smile and equally value you tears. Researches have claimed that trying to be positive even in the negative situations have many long term effects and can turn to psychiatric issues (Lomas,2020).

Toxic positivity not only bring effects in the distant future. However it also diminishes the value of every emotions that has carved us as a perfect human being. Every emotion of happiness or sadness, positivity or negativity in a person has significant role to play. The anger we show can signify that something is not being pleasant to us so that the next person can stop repeating the same thing again in the future. The sadness a person shows can actually help in understanding the grief or unpleasant time s/he has been going through. Similarly the negativity that a person shows can help in understanding a person so that it will be much easier in dealing with the problems if s/he is ready to deal it together.

To sum up, let’s not practice the toxic positivity if we are struggling to stay positive all the time. Let’s keep our mind disciplined letting the emotion to flow. Do not try to pretend okay when you are actually not. When you are feeling negative all the time, try to understand what is triggering you to feel sad and negative. Stay with those feelings, talk to them and eventually work out on them rather than simply avoiding those feelings holding on toxic positivity. Learn to value each of your feelings. Always give permission to both negative and positive emotions.


Cdn.fedweb.org. 2020. [online]

Jen Rose Smith, C., 2020. When Does A Good Attitude Become Toxic Positivity?. [online] CNN. Available at: <https://edition.cnn.com/

Healthline. 2020. ‘Toxic Positivity’ Is Real — And It’s A Big Problem During The Pandemic. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com

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