‘I lost my job.’ I said.
‘Stay positive, everything happens for a reason.’ She said.
‘But I lost it in the middle of the pandemic. And losing a job is awful. And what about my EMIs and other expenses?’ I asked.
‘You will get over it. And crying is not going to help. And you just lost a job, it could have been worse.’ She said.
‘Yeah, you are right.’ I muttered under my breath.
GOOD VIBES ONLY, statements made me feel sick. I was constantly introspecting if I was really ungrateful for nothing worse happened. I felt guilty for not being able to find positivity. I constantly googled if it was okay to not to be okay. These feel good sentences pushed me in a toxic loop. I was amazed at my sickness with positivity. And sooner than later, I understood I was not sick with the positivity, but the obsession with positivity i.e. TOXIC POSITIVITY.
Toxic positivity is to reset our minds to positivity and look at the brighter side irrespective of how the difficult, painful and grief-stricken the situation is. It is overgeneralizing of the extremes. It is not letting our emotions breathe. It is a constant form of avoidance and suppression of our feelings, engaging ourselves in cheerful outlook rather than a valid solution.
People often don’t intend to harm us with the positive statements. But our minds are more complex than these simple statements to pacify the volcano of emotions that erupt within. Oversimplified statements can actually devoid us of our own emotional growth. It manipulates the process of healing with fake happiness, which is generally not long lasting.
The subtle signs of toxic positivity might make it difficult for us to recognize. The source could be social media flooded with positive statements, or self-talk to keep up 24/7 or overgeneralized statements of friends and family. It is a red alarm when we start brushing off problems, giving them less importance and do not allow ourselves to feel. Rating your problem on a scale of 0 to 10 is another warning. I rated losing a job in pandemic below losing a person, despite the fact that both the circumstances are grave and intense. The pressure to always shine and not be a flag bearer of negativity is another sign. The state of not having a sunny outlook puts us in the state of being guilty.
Of course, we cannot always stay in the pool of sadness, but that calls for managing your negative emotions, not hiding or denying them. Choose realistic emotions rather than always choosing happiness. Let yourself feel the stress of the exam or making losses in business. Be wary of the sources which induce toxic positivity. Voice your emotions by sharing with a friend or writing them. And if you are that friend, please don’t judge someone for feeling negative, reassure by understanding or just listening instead of quoting feel good statements.
Staying happy or positive at all times is a myth. So don’t hurt yourself trying to be happy. Feeling sad, anxious, jealous, fearful are equally part of being like happiness and positivity. Let yourself feel all the emotions on the spectrum. Don’t let anyone invalidate your emotions by creating a mirage of happiness but land yourself on an oasis to quench your sadness with hopeful optimism. Strive for real vibes only!!
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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