Published in Sep 2020 / Updated in Mar 2021
Surprising as this might sound, the most toxic person in your life might be the most positive person you know. Yes, you could be a victim of toxic positivity.
This means that not every cloud has a silver lining after all. Being positive can be a negative thing. And just to be clear, we are talking about forced positivity, which is the brand the ever-growing self-help industry promotes in all its forms.
From that, it’s only a small step towards toxic positivity gaslighting, whereby we have people making you feel like you should be feeling happy when you have every reason to feel down. That’s wrong. You should never feel guilty for feeling bad.
How Can You Be A Victim Of Toxic Positivity?
How about an example?
Let’s say you have just broken up with your long-term partner, and naturally, you are feeling down in the dumps because your hopes for the future have been dashed. You are moody and can’t find any excitement in your life. Nothing excites you anymore.
In such a scenario, your lack of enthusiasm should be understandable. Still, when someone insists you have to “put that behind you” and “move on already” and make you feel bad for feeling sad, that’s toxic positivity gaslighting.
Life has ups and downs, and nobody should force you to fake being positive all the time. It does more harm than good.
The thing is: whatever you experience on a deep emotional level has to be dealt with properly, or it will keep haunting you in the future.
That is something many self-help gurus seem to forget. But you should understand that at times, it’s okay not to be okay. You can deal with your source of pain during these moments and get it out of your system, so it doesn’t haunt you forever.
Toxic Positivity And Victim Blaming
Toxic positivity also commonly involves victim blaming.
When you lose a close loved one, you suffer grief, and in this case, you are the victim of the traumatic experience that robbed you of your loved one. So, when someone blames you for being sad, they are essentially blaming the victim.
These kinds of behaviors ruin lives, and they offer a very clear glimpse into the dark side of positivity. This is why we are saying that someone who forces positivity on you is essentially a toxic person. Forced positivity is toxic positivity, period.
The bigger problem is that the toxic positivity culture is catching on.
People are being made to believe through self-help seminars and books that they can be happy all the time, which is simply not the truth.
Even in workplaces, positivity is being forced on people. Wear a frown while working in the service industry and you will probably be out in the street looking for a job soon after. This makes people tense and anxious, which can ruin our relationships.
But we get it.
It’s great to look on the bright side of life when that is an option, but don’t force yourself to be positive when you are dying slowly on the inside.
If you have a dark moment to get through before you can welcome more positivity into your life, then by all means deal with that first. Bottling up such emotions will ruin your life, and any positivity you project will be fake. That might convince people you are okay when in reality you are suffering greatly.
So, there are times when it’s perfectly okay not to be okay. Your mission in life is not to make everyone you meet believe that you are the happiest person ever. What’s important is that you are real and that you are working on bettering yourself.
Reality Is Both Good And Bad
Real experiences are not always positive, which is why you should always leave some space for pain. There is no magical way of thinking that turns our imperfect world into a paradise that keeps you happy at every minute of your life.
Although negative feelings are generally a bad thing, they are sometimes a good thing. Trying to mask your feelings through humor, fake smiles, or personality and eating disorders will only push you closer to suffering from serious mental illness.
Happy times are part of the human experience, and so are the bad times. It’s not just the good you should pay attention to, but the bad as well. Ignoring the pain and bad times does not necessarily make you happier.
We all want to have positive vibes around us, but it’s not worth losing ourselves trying to create the impression that we are happy when we are not.
Sometimes You Make Yourself A Victim Of Toxic Positivity
If positivity is being forced down your throat, you might be a victim of toxic positivity. Faking smiles and acting like everything is fine when it’s not can ruin your life. There is a reason we have both bad and good emotions.
They all serve a purpose, and we get in the way and set ourselves up for ruin when we act as nothing gets to us. So, it’s okay to cry when the moment calls for it. Don’t let anyone bully you into pretending that you are fine after your favorite pet passes on by telling you it was “just a dog.”
There is a time for everything. Sometimes you will be sad, whether you like it or not; and sometimes you will be happy, even when you try to hide it. There will also be times when you get to choose positivity without compromising your psychological health. During these moments, definitely choose to see the sunnier side of life.
But if being positive means bottling up toxic unresolved issues, then that’s not positive positivity. You might not only be a victim of toxic positivity but also the culprit guilty for this terrible self-inflicted crime.
Positivity is good, and it has its place. But it can turn toxic when misused.
Once you understand that, your life will be a lot happier even though the world might not describe you as the most positive person ever. Don’t be a victim of toxic positivity. Too many people have suffered from toxic positivity already.