What Is Toxic Positivity And How To Deal With It

“It could be worse.”

“Everything happens for a reason”.

“Don't be so negative.”

When someone notices that we're unhappy, they often use these phrases to cheer us up. However, do these phrases really improve our mood? Or do they make it worse?

Even though the person saying this could probably be right, it is not what you wanted and needed to hear at that moment. You may be worried, upset, or scared and what you need is space and time to sort through your feelings. This suppression of real feelings by forcing people to have a positive mindset is often known as toxic positivity.

Positivity is the experience of positive emotions like gratitude, serenity, and love. Having a positive attitude can mean having a better social life than others, and results in being more productive at work and even around the house. Having a positive attitude is cited as a major reason for meaningful relationships and success. So when does positivity become toxic? Is positivity always bad for us?

Positivity is healthy when you do not dismiss the negative aspects of life but allow them to have space without allowing them to take control of your life.It helps you acknowledge and process rather than push through in an unhealthy way. Healthy positivity could look like encouraging people to share both good and bad emotions and understands that not all experiences have to be good. It doesn't mean you ignore the problems, but you approach the good and bad of life with the expectation that things will go well.

While healthy positivity helps you cope with negative emotions through positive thinking strategies without denying the pain, toxic positivity denies the emotion and forces us to suppress it. Positivity becomes toxic when someone is looking for support, validation, or compassion but is met with a platitude or when we deny our reality and shame ourselves for not being positive enough, or when we gaslight someone who has legitimate questions or concerns and tells people that everything bad in their life is their fault. 

Some of the signs of toxic positivity

  • Avoiding facing problems and hiding/masking true feelings
  • Feelings guilty for feeling sad, hurt, disappointed
  • Minimizing other people's experiences with “feel good” statements
  • The comments passed are often judgmental and lack compassion

This emotional suppression is harmful to our mind and body, and other relationships with society. This could be taxing and maladaptive and could worsen mood, and negative feelings and in fact diminish positive emotions.

The idea of “good vibes only” also results in toxic relationships with others in society, when we say that some emotions are “bad,” we miss out on the closeness that develops through vulnerability. We invalidate the real experiences that people go through every day. Instead of finding comfort and love in their friends, they are made to feel that their experiences are invalid which causes them shame and guilt.

Some ways to deal with toxic positivity

  • Practice mindfulness- when you practice mindfulness regularly, you are in tune with what you feeling and what's going on around you.

  • Understand that emotions are human and are normal to feel. Encouraging other people to talk more openly about their emotions can also help avoid toxic positivity

  • Talk with trusted and nonjudgmental people about your emotions and seek support from them

  • Get more comfortable with negative feelings and avoid having a positive response to whatever the other person says

  • Accept that combatting toxic positivity is a long process and the change wont happen overnight.


Emotions make us human and are not to be shamed or ignored.It is also important to educate those who misunderstand you.Rather than pushing through with pain, reach out when you need help. 

1 comment

  • how to be productive

    Dyuthishree on

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