Yes, There is Such a Thing as Too Positive.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone about your feelings, or basically anything serious, and they say something like, "Well, the worst of it is over!", or "You just have to think positive!", or "Don't worry, you're strong. You can handle this!"? I'm pretty sure you have. We all have. While people who say these things have good intentions and want to make us feel better, the effect it has on us is just the opposite.
Believe it or not, this actually is a thing with a name. It's called toxic positivity. An article was written by Samara Quintero, LMFT, CHT, and Jamie Long, PsyD, titled, "Toxic Positivity: The Dark Side of Positive Vibes," defines toxic positivity as, "the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations. The process of toxic positivity results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience." In the article, they go on to explain how toxic positivity stems from emotional distress and insecurities.
Often, the people who partake in this kind of rhetoric or behavior have not dealt with their own feelings. They struggle to process what they feel, so they try to avoid it as much as possible. Most people don't even know they're doing it. I would be lying if I said I never did. Toxic positivity is more than just what people say. It's how they act. It's how they present themselves in public. It's their happy-go-lucky posts on social media that don't depict reality. It's how they invalidate your experiences and feelings when you just want support and comfort.
It's the ingenuity for me!
It's the invalidation for me!
It's the not-really-listening listening for me!
It's the fakeness for me!
As someone who has been through more traumatic and life-altering experiences than most people do in their lifetime, I've always tried to look on the bright side of things. I try to find the good in every situation. I'm a firm believer that life is only what you make of it. And while I always try to keep a positive outlook and mindset, I know that sometimes that's not possible. And that's okay because my feelings are valid.
Someone telling me that what I'm going through and feeling is temporary is not going to help. I know that eventually, this struggle will be over and I'll be in a better place - physically, mentally, and emotionally. Instead of spewing platitudes that mean nothing, try listening. Not saying anything and just giving someone your full and honest attention is both more meaningful and helpful.
Have you ever experienced toxic positivity?