Toxic Positivity


Rayne Thompson, Staff

How often has the phrase, “be positive!” been advertised to those feeling down? Or, having the latest post on your Instagram feed displaying in the caption, “Good vibes only.” Yeah, often enough.

Toxic Positivity is in reference to the concept that enforcing positive thoughts and not even acknowledging the negative will improve one’s mental health. Even if it sounds A-Okay, looking on the bright side all the time isn’t the way to go. The sun comes down and that’s alright. Note, it’s believed that viewing negativity as a ‘failure’ will merely bring more negative thoughts to one’s person, having the opposite effect, according to Sarah Schuster, the editorial director of The Mighty. So maybe that’s not the way to go.

Konstantin Lukin from Psychology Today details of the in fact negative impact on forced positive thinking in his article, Toxic Positivity: Don’t Always look on the Bright Side.

“When you deny or avoid unpleasant emotions, you make them bigger,” he states in the article. When you avoid your feelings, you trap yourself in a cycle where these negative emotions become bigger right under your nose. It is scientifically proven that we cannot make ourselves feel happy. Or anything else, for that matter. So, no, when one is suffering from poor mental health, you can’t simply crumble it up and throw it away.

“It isn’t as healthy as it seems. I just feel worse,” freshman Eldana Taurat says when she thinks to her experiences with toxic positivity.

Some are rather indifferent to it.

“I guess it depends. Still doesn’t sound great,” 9th grader Christen Lopez states.

Regardless, emotions are important and are there for a reason–they should not be ignored.  If those difficult emotions rise within you, instead of pushing them down, accept them and face them. Once you do that, you are already on the road to recovery, no matter how long or short it is, you’re on your way. So, don’t stop.

Instead of forcing these happy vibes, show yourself compassion. Face your battles head on. If that doesn’t work, try to feel happiness rather than display it; do things that bring you joy, not for anyone else’s well-being but your own. Read a book, play with a pet outside, take a walk, or just settle down with a funny TV show and some milk and cookies. Feelings are hard; if you still aren’t 100% getting it, that’s fine. And remember, it’s okay to not be okay.