“You’ll get over it” can come from a place of love, but the emotional damage this kind of tough love can cause is not to be ignored. It’s time we shone a light on what toxic positivity is, and ways you can avoid it.
My experience both personally and professionally of what toxic positivity is, is when we use positivity to override accepting or dealing with negative, or painful emotions. For many, it’s a form of avoidance.
Whether that is yourself denying that what you’re feeling is actually painful and justified, or you’re at the receiving end of someone dishing out the “look at the bright side of life” kind of advice. Either way, it leads to burying how you really feel, and majority of the time feeling like you need to paint on a smile and crack on as best you can, despite experiencing difficult challenges.
Have you even been through a break up if you’ve not had the words “there’s plenty more fish in the sea” thrown at your heart broken face? Speaking from experience here.
The reason this becomes toxic is the focus is about just moving on. But if you’ve been in a dark, solemn place listening to old albums whilst crying into your pillow because you’ve never experienced having your heart trampled on quite like it before - the advice, or throw away comment of “plenty more fish in the sea” completely dismisses emotions, and takes away the importance of how you’re feeling right here, right now.
The impact of this? It leaves you thinking you should hide your painful emotions, ignore problems, and for some it leads to experiencing guilt for feeling emotions such as sadness or anger.
Whether you’ve been a victim to toxic positivity yourself, or maybe reading this you’ve recognised that you’ve done it to others (no shame, blame or guilt needed here! You no doubt meant it in the best way at the time). You can now make a conscious choice moving forward, aware of the impact this can have on yourself and others.
Coming from a place of hope and optimism is so much more helpful and healing.
Here’s some examples of what you can say to others who are going through a difficult time: