In the context of mental health, positive thinking is often used as a means to fix problems. As much as positivity is useful, an excess of it can result in toxic positivity. In this video, psychologist Kanika Shah of Nimai Healthcare throws light on this subject, and tells you more about it.
Understanding toxic positivity, and its negative impact on our life
Toxic positivity is an over generalisation or over emphasis on being in a happy optimistic state across all situations. It can cause us to deny and minimise our actual emotional experiences. This can be unhealthy for our emotional and mental well-being. Avoiding negative emotions makes them that much bigger and more intrusive even, as they remain unattended.
Negative emotions give us useful information. Anger could indicate your boundaries were crossed, and fear might tell you, you need to be careful. We need to acknowledge and validate our negative and difficult emotions. It can be difficult to be positive all the time, and putting pressure on ourselves can make us feel worse. Sometimes we end up unintentionally engaging in toxic positivity when trying to be supportive.
Avoid toxicity by being more compassionate and aware
Replace phrases that are repeated without a second thought. These include – ‘You’ll get over it’. ‘It could be worse’ and ‘Think happy thoughts’. These phrases may come off as dismissive or not empathetic of someone’s emotional struggles. Instead, go with compassionate phrases like – ‘It’s okay to not be okay.’ ‘Things can get tough. I’m here for you.’ ‘Sometimes we do go through bad things. How can I support you?’.
Using these phrases can help us connect in a better, positive way with others and ourselves too.