How does Toxic Positivity make you Feel?

This post was written by Rhonda Wasserman

Original content by Ashley Berges

Toxic positivity occurs unbeknownst to the user.  Can you recognize the difference between a positive person or someone who uses toxic positivity?

Everything happens for a reason, just stay positive, and you can choose to be happy.  These are three comments often used by someone who has good intentions but is toxically positive.  Comments like these are a form of gaslighting.  These comments can make you feel awful about the actual feelings you are experiencing.  

To be a well-rounded person, you must be able to feel challenging emotions such as sadness, loss, and heartbreak.  People need to be able to process these types of feelings and begin to let them go over time.

When you experience a loss, and a friend tells you everything happens for a reason, you may be able to see what they are saying, but it is difficult when you are currently going through the experience.  You need to be able to process the loss and at that time those words do not help.

It is important to grieve and feel sadness.  Positive toxicity influences us whether it occurs on purpose or not.  It causes us to feel bad that we are not able to feel ok about the situation at hand.  We begin to question ourselves, wondering what is wrong with us, why can’t we move on? 

When you look at the gaslighting principle of toxic positivity, it can cause you to feel shame.  Shame is one of the lowest vibrational feelings we can have.  You may be dealing with the emotions of a loss now combined with shame.  You may find yourself wondering why you are not able to be more positive. Your emotions become invalid under these circumstances. It feels as though you should not feel the way you do; your emotions are not justifiable.  

Another low vibrational feeling you may experience is guilt.  You feel guilt because you are not able to be positive.  It is difficult to see the silver lining or believe things will work out at that moment.  Over time you will be able to process your emotions and become more optimistic.  It takes time to get to a place of optimism during difficult emotional periods

Isolating yourself may be another result of toxic positivity.  When dealing with grief it’s not uncommon to feel disheartened when you express your feelings of grief.  People do not always know what to say, therefore their comments tend to be ones of toxic positivity.   They are struggling to process their feelings while at the same time you are also trying to understand your emotions.

Spiritual by-passing is another facet of toxic positivity.  When you use spiritual by-passing, you tend to sidestep your emotions. However, you need to feel these difficult emotions.  You do not need to wallow in your pain per se, but you must experience the feelings.  It helps you to grow when challenged to experience difficult emotions.  It is important to sit with the emotions, not let them take you over, but process them and let them go.   

Losing something that really impacts you and safely expressing feelings is essential to your growth.  Perhaps having someone who is toxically positive in your life may not be the best person to talk about your emotions with when going through a difficult situation.  You need to be able to identify toxically positive people in your life.  Ultimately, when we open ourselves up to toxic positivity we either get angry or broken down.

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