How many times have you been reminded to “maintain a positive attitude or mindset” when things do not turn out well? But did you know that too much positivity can turn toxic?
“Toxic positivity” refers to the idea of focusing only on positive things while pushing aside anything that can lead to negativity.
While it may sound good to deny or avoid unpleasant emotions, accepting difficult emotions can help with coping and reduce the level of negativity that is building up.
Here are a few ways to change the phrases to avoid toxic positivity.
- Instead of saying “You will get over it”, say, “It’s hard but I believe in you.”
- Instead of saying “Don’t be so negative”, say, “It’s okay to feel bad sometimes.”
- Instead of saying “Always look on the bright side”, say, “It can be difficult to see the good in this situation, but we will make sense of it when we can.”
- Instead of saying “Failure is not an option”, say, “Failure is part of growth.”
- Instead of saying “Think happy thoughts”, say, “Things can get really tough, I am here for you.”
- Instead of saying “It could be worse”, say, “Sometimes we experience bad things. How can I support you?”
Why toxic positivity is a problem
Toxic positivity is an issue because it’s important to solve your problems head-on rather than ignore them.
If you never address a problem, it will escalate, making it even harder to turn things around later.
It would be more beneficial to accept the problem at hand, instead of push aside the negative emotions associated with it. Not defusing the problem early could also affect your overall psychological health in the long-run.
Signs toxic positivity is being taken too far
Shouldering all the responsibility yourself while avoiding issues that are too much to handle is a sign that you need to balance the positive-negative elements in your life.
Avoidance can lead you down the path of laziness. Once you are accustomed to avoiding the negative things in your life, you will gradually find yourself sitting on the sidelines as opportunities pass you by.
Toxic positivity can also cause you to see yourself as a victim or to internalise the negative aspects of your life, leading to even more stress.
Here are three ways to overcome falling into the trap of toxic positivity.
1. Don’t push negative feelings away
If you are currently struggling to come to terms with something, avoid pushing away the negative feelings you have of it.
It is completely permissible to feel disappointed, frustrated, sad and angry in the face of hardship so acknowledge your emotions. Remember, it’s just a matter of time before the problem returns if you keep avoiding it.
Negative emotions are a normal aspect of life. What matters most is finding a balance between positive and negative emotions.
The best way is to go right through the negative emotions and find a way to cope with them to avoid ending up in a much worse state.
2. Learn to distinguish between things that can and cannot be changed
Oftentimes, something can be done to change a situation. But not everything can be fixed. Look into all options to fix a problem.
Learning to accept that some things cannot be changed is neither an easy nor a quick process but it can be done.
3. Correct cognitive thinking errors
Everyone has negative thoughts at times, and oftentimes you create these cognitive thinking errors yourself, especially if you are depressed, anxious or stressed.
One of the simplest approaches to correcting cognitive thinking errors is to start with appreciating the small, good things around you. Doing this consciously will help you get through the hardest struggles in life.
This article first appeared in jobstore.com.
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