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The insurmountable wall of toxic positivism

Rhetorically asking how positivity can be negative. Words of seemingly opposite meanings, which this time will be very good friends and stick together like a couple holding hands and just falling in love. Toxic positivity in everyday life, most blatantly in social media, describes the tendency to deny or invalidate negative emotions and experiences in order to maintain a constant positive mindset. This mindset includes the belief that one should always be happy, optimistic and grateful for everything, regardless of the actual circumstances.

Toxic positivity in everyday life – individuals reject or minimize genuine feelings of sadness, anger or frustration by using phrases such as ‘think only positive’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’. This can lead to a desire to suppress or hide true emotions, thus contributing to a distancing from one’s inner world and a lack of understanding of the reasons why feelings arise.

The toxic positivity of social media is cultivated by its algorithms. People often present an idealized version of their lives, showing only positive moments and achievements, ignoring the challenges and difficulties they face in real life. This creates an illusion of constant happiness and success, suppressing the desire of others to express their difficulties.

Toxic positivity is about individuals trying to avoid discomfort by putting up a facade of happiness in the face of it. Societies “demand” that we always look positive, regardless of the individual’s real-life situation.

Toxic positivity can have a negative impact on mental health and general well-being. It can prevent individuals from being aware of the full range of emotions, as they feel compelled to move on faster by ignoring their emotions. It creates a culture of comparison as people try to live up to the impossible standards set by others.

To solve toxic positivity requires an understanding of the whole spectrum of emotions, and more importantly, the acceptance of different emotions. Open conversations about both the positive and negative aspects of life, promoting empathy and understanding.

The images below are accompanied by some popular expressions that describe toxic positivism. The phrases trivialize the complex nature of human life, selectively highlighting the positive side, suggesting that causes are ignored, but that they are the beginning of everything.

Live, enjoy and think!

“Happiness is a choice”: While it is true that we have some control over the way we think, this phrase oversimplifies the complexity of mental health and ignores the impact of external factors on our well-being.
“Only positive emotions”: This phrase promotes the idea that negative emotions have no place in people’s lives, creating an environment where people feel compelled to ignore their true feelings.
“Don’t worry, be happy”: This phrase devalues a person’s worries or anxieties by making them simply choose happiness without taking into account the root causes of their concerns.
“Everything happens for a reason”: While this phrase can be comforting in certain situations, it can also diminish the importance of an individual’s pain or struggles, causing them to accept their circumstances without allowing for healing or growth.
“Think only positively and everything will work out”: Ignoring the unwanted challenges of real life, the phrase suggests that only positive thinking can solve any problem, ignoring the complexity of real-life situations.

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