What is Toxic Positivity?
World renowned psychotherapist Dr. Joy Miller reveals her most powerful secrets
There is no denying that there are benefits to being an optimist and engaging in positive thinking, but can this go too far?
If you look at the phrase “Toxic Positivity” through the lens of yin-yang, toxic is a dark word and positivity is a light word. The downside of what is commonly referred to as “toxic positivity” can be perceived in ways such as avoiding painful emotions like anger and sadness at all costs or feeling the pressure to always be smiling and happy, hiding fears and vulnerabilities instead of seeking help when needed.
It’s easy to imagine that having a positive outlook on life is always good. But what if you find yourself in tough times? What if you’re sad, angry or frustrated? If your only coping mechanism is to put on a smile and “fake it ’til you make it,” then this could be hurting you rather than helping because you are never actually really healing the painful triggers. It’s important not to ignore these emotions; they are there for a reason and need to be felt and dealt with openly and honestly. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself- even when things feel bleak...
#1 Avoid the temptation of staying indoors all day every day. Go outside, take walks, exercise or do something fun like read or watch movies. These activities will help release endorphins which will raise your mood and help you relax.
#2 Speak up if something’s wrong. Don’t shy away from reaching out to a friend or family member for support or going to see a therapist. You don’t have to feel embarrassed about having feelings of depression or anxiety- it is normal! Those feelings are there for a reason and it’s unhealthy to ignore them.
#3 Keep a journal of your thoughts and emotions. This is a great way to release your feelings without having an emotional outburst in public or burdening another person with your problems. Writing out how you feel can be a healthy alternative to lashing out, crying or shutting down emotionally. If someone upsets you, it can be helpful to write them a note to let out your feelings but just the act of doing so is powerful. You can decide later if you want to send it to them, sometimes you will feel better just for having written it.
#4 Have an outlet. Whether it is art, dance or music- find something that you can use to express yourself creatively and allow yourself to be free from all of the weight on your shoulders.