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Toxic positivity and forced optimism

Toxic Positivity - What's Behind Forced Optimism?

Want to know all about toxic positivity? Then you've come to the right place! "Cheer up, it will get better" or "You ONLY have to stay positive" - how often have you felt bad about something and heard one of these sayings from other people? I'm sure quite often.

And although you are aware that a positive attitude is actually good for you, these supposed encouragers did not help at all. Quite the opposite! Afterwards, you felt completely miserable and even had a guilty conscience because you were so ungrateful and negative. But what is the reason for this? Is it because of you? Not really!

This phenomenon has been known for a while and is referred to as toxic positivity. In this article, I reveal what this means, how positivity can be "toxic", how to recognize it and how to deal with it.

You can find a brief overview here in advance:

  1. Definition
  2. Features
  3. What to do?
  4. Closing words

What is toxic positivity?

What exactly is toxic positivity?

The official definition of The Psychology Group defines toxic positivity as "the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state in all situations".

This means that we are "served" every day that Negative feelings and negative thoughts not allowed are that we are expected to be in a good mood at all times and that even if something bad happens, everything will simply work itself out through positive thinking.

And yes, a positive outlook on life can be very good for us, but that alone can hardly solve a major problem. But what is particularly toxic about it is the fact that we are often feel even worse, because we fail to "see the bright side in every situation!".

Why is toxic positivity so bad for us?

Ignoring and suppressing our own feelings cannot be positive for us. Even if they are so-called negative feelings, they can actually be good for us.

For example, fear can hold us back from participating in a dangerous opportunity. Grief helps us to accept loss. Even anger and rage should not be suppressed.

Repressed feelings will never disappearWe can only hide them for a while, but in a moment they will suddenly reappear. And as is so often the case, it will happen at the worst possible moment and will only cause more problems.

Have you ever been angry with a friend but didn't want to talk about it? And then you meet up with your partner, he/she makes a bad joke, you can't take it anymore and all the anger that your boyfriend/girlfriend is actually responsible for is unleashed on your partner, who barely understands what it's all about.

And what did you get in this case? You're still angry, but now it's also possible that you'll have an argument with your partner.

This example is banal, but precisely because each of us has experienced something like this at some point, it is a good lesson in what happens to suppressed feelings.

The second reason why toxic positivity is bad for us is the aforementioned fact that we feel worse because we are are constantly under pressure to be positivebut were unable to fulfill these expectations.

How do you recognize toxic positivity?

How can you recognize toxic positivity?

If you're not sure what the difference is between real optimism and this Happiness lie these examples can help you.

1. reproaches instead of advice

Have you ever had the experience of telling other people about your problems in the hope of getting good advice - but in the end you only hear accusations and recriminations?

You are told that you alone are to blame for your condition or that you are not grateful enoughfor all the other things you have in life. This is a typical characteristic of toxic positivity.

Instead of getting help, you will probably simply lose trust in this person in such a situation. And the next time you have a problem, you'll talk to other people about it.

2. negative comparisons

Imagining the worst-case scenario is a technique that is often used when you have to make a decision. In this case, it can actually be quite good to know what the worst thing that could happen to you is.

But if you are going through a difficult time and someone tells you that it could be worse and compares your situation with the word case scenario or simply with a worse situation that he or someone else has experienced, this does not actually help you and is not a solution to your problems.

Yes, in most cases things can get worse. But that doesn't mean that your problems aren't bad too. Never let anyone convince you that your problems are not important enoughbecause others have to struggle with even worse things.

3. lack of empathy

It is not always easy to understand other people's problems. What is the end of the world for one person may only be a trifle for another.

However, most of us can at least try to understand the point of view of other people in order to put ourselves in their shoes, so to speak. But toxically positive people don't do that. Their world view is extremely self-centered and their only subject is themselves.

How does this manifest itself? Here are two example sentences:

  • "I wouldn't be so ungrateful if I were you."
  • "I don't know what you're complaining about at all, I would in your situation. one way or another deal with it."

Have you ever heard this from someone? Do you think this person really has a positive outlook on life or do you think they lack empathy?

4. empty phrases

Toxically positive people also like to use phrases that may seem profound at first glance, but are actually not really helpful.

  • "Cheer up, it'll get better."
  • "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
  • "Good vibes only."
  • "Never give up."
  • "You just have to smile and soon you'll feel really good."

Yes, pep talks are welcome in some situations. But when they come together with a proper advice, they are much more effective.

If someone suffers from an illness, we can't just tell them that it's all in their head. Likewise, if someone loses an important person, you can't say that everything will be fine again.

His life will never be the same and this loss will be a part of him forever. Ignoring this fact will only prolong the pain.

5. the perfect picture

It's impossible to talk about toxic positivity and not mention social media. We all know that such staged photos have little to do with reality. In "real" life there are no filters! Nevertheless, we allow such photos to influence us from time to time.

We ourselves choose the best photos and appropriate sayings for our social media profiles, WhatsApp status and hashtags, but if we feel uncomfortable ourselves and see similar posts from other people, we believe that they are true and that everyone else is better off than we are.

We then feel this pressure to make our own life perfect, or at least to present it that way. And so we end up in a vicious circle - we Are under pressure to live perfectly and be positivebut with our example we also put pressure on other people.

Could that be? Would you be ready to leave the comfort zone or are you a toxic positive person yourself?

Am I toxic positive?

If you yourself also only talk and post about the good things in your life, if you often tell others that they should only think positively and everything will be fine or that they should be more grateful, it may be that you yourself are also positively toxic.

I'm sure you didn't intend to, and that's the trap of toxic positivity: Often there are only good intentions behind it!

The good news, however, is that it is possible to break through this toxic positivity.

How can I free myself from toxic positivity?

What to do about toxic optimism?

The most important step in freeing yourself from toxic positivity is Allow and accept your own unpleasant feelings. It's actually that easy.

Don't try to hide or suppress your negative thoughts and feelings. Yes, it will be painful and yes, it will not be easy. But you'll have to deal with them at some point anyway.

Only then will you have the opportunity to process your situation and move on. After that, you'll still have enough time for positive thinking and "good vibes only". ? Until then, these steps can help you.

How should I deal with negative feelings?

Once you have accepted your own feelings, even if they are unpleasant, there are still a few things you can and should do.

Talk about it!

You can only end the vicious circle of toxic positivity if you start, Talk openly about negative feelings and conditions. I'm sure you have some people in your life who you trust 100 percent and who will be happy to help you. Talk to them, tell them all about your problems.

If talking to the people around you doesn't help, you still have the option of consulting an expert. A Psychologist or therapist can help you to accept and solve your problems.

On the other hand, if you are the one to whom someone opens up, Don't play down the negative feelings of the other person. You don't have any good advice? Then you can at least say that you understand how difficult this person is feeling and that it's okay to feel uncomfortable and that they can get in touch with you at any time.

Find a healthy outlet!

Another way to deal with negative emotions is to channel them into an activity. Depending on your talents and abilities, you can be the best version of yourself. For some people, it helps to write. It can be a Be a diary, letters, poetry or even a blog. ?

Other people find a different creative way to express their feelings, such as Painting, crafting or any other type of craft.

If you are not particularly creative, even Sports exercise can be a very good outlet. Would you rather get rid of your negative emotions by sweating while running or boxing or do you think yoga is a better choice for you?

Whatever you decide to do, it will be better than suppressing and hiding your feelings.

Tip: Speaking of sports! Perhaps also the Plogging something for you. You go jogging and collect plastic waste from the environment at the same time. Give it a try!

Recognize toxic positivity and talk about it!

Talking with others about toxic positivity

Sometimes it is the result of a lack of empathy and a self-centered approach to life - and other times it is quickly said and not meant in a bad way at all. Toxic positivity is definitely a part of our lives.

Whether we are the ones spreading it or suffering because of it. This toxic optimism should be dealt with like any other toxic relationship: you have to give it up.

Yes, probably everything will be fine again! But it is also completely okay that our lives are not good or even perfect at every moment. It's okay to feel bad and miserable, it's okay to be angry, sad or disappointed.

You don't always have to smile - honest dissatisfaction is much better for yourself and those around you than forced happiness!

Stay positive,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: A few empty phrases won't help you get rid of negative thoughts. But there are many helpful tips to help you overcome a possible Stop thought carousel. In the linked article you will get to know them now.

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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