● By Mel Sim
You guys, there is such a thing as too much positivity….
You had a bad day so you call up a friend to rant about it, and what do you get? “Chin up! You have so many other things going on for you. Think positive!”
Hands up if you are tired of that phrase … “Think positive.”
I know I am! Yes, we’ve all read why it’s important to have a positive outlook but hey, it’s life, you know, and sometimes, you just don’t have the energy to be rah, rah, rah positive all the time. Some days, you just want to wallow in your depression and have at least five minutes of “Urgh, I hate life!”
Guess what, it’s actually recommended that you don’t be positive all the time. Yes, we are positive that being too positive is bad for you! It’s called toxic positivity, and it’s defined as “the belief that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset.” Sure, there are benefits in positive thinking but toxic positivity is when you pretend everything is all right and you ignore your problem because you think it is a crime to express even an ounce of negativity.
Here's why toxic positivity is well, toxic. Because life isn’t always positive. Like the saying goes, life is full of ups and downs, so it is only natural that you should also feel up and down, not just up all the time. There are days where you have to deal with bad experiences and emotions; trying to maintain a sense of positivity isn’t going to make it go away. But if you mask that negativity with false positivity, you’re essentially just sweeping everything under a rug, pretending when things are OK when they are not.
So why is this so bad? Well, two things. On a personal front, the “positive vibes only” mantra deters you from addressing the issue. Maybe you are hurt because a friend betrayed you. Or maybe you are feeling stressed because there’s too much happening at work and at home. But we’re told to remain positive and not think too much of all the bad things happening. This can cause you to feel guilty because you’re not able to see the positive side of things, making you feel like you’re the odd one out. This will cause you even more stress on top of the emotions you’re going through, making it even tougher for you. Wouldn’t it be easier to just accept that you’re not feeling 100% and then slowly work your way to that?
Secondly, when you try to impose toxic positivity on others, you’re refraining them from sharing with you their true emotions. Your friend might feel like you’re shaming her for feeling down when really, you should be offering support… and that doesn’t have to come in the form of a positive quote!
Guilty of toxic positivity? Try these instead:
#1 Know that it’s OK to feel sad
That’s part and parcel of life! It’s completely OK to feel sad, nervous, jealous, anxious, uninterested. That’s all part of the human experience and there’s nothing wrong with them. Especially if you are feeling worried; don’t feel like you need to put on a brave front for the rest of the world. Focus instead on self-care and working your way up to improve your situation.
#2 Stay away from false positivity
You know the type, sunshiny quotes, friends who tell you what’s there to be worried about, social media where everyone looks to be so happy. The truth is nobody can be that positive all the time and if they are, well, hello toxic positivity.
#3 Listen, not preach
Now what if you’re the one guilty of spreading toxic positivity? When a friend is telling you what a bad day she’s having, instead of disregarding her feelings and shutting them down with some positive nuances, do this instead: Listen. Most of the time, people just want a listening ear, not a preacher.
Photo by Count Chris on Unsplash
British American Tobacco Malaysia has successfully cultivated a culture where differences are appreciated and celebrated.
Kenneth McMahon, Managing Director Sales Solutions & Special Services AMEA, accepting the award on behalf of FedEx Express.
Always saying yes and going out of your way for your colleagues and boss? Read this.