Letʻs talk about something I only learned about this week. Yes, only this week I learned the name for a feeling Iʻve been questioning very recently: Toxic positivity.
Toxic Positivity can be defined as being/trying to stay constantly happy in bad situations.
The reason this has been weighing on my conscience is because Iʻve been becoming increasingly interested in the self-help books and social media accounts. In the back of my head, I will read or watch something and say things to myself like “okay, but what if it really is bad? We canʻt just will happiness into existence in certain situations. Thatʻs terrible for people, especially those in abusive situations.”
To be constantly happy, to tell yourself to just stay happy, is to negate your true emotions. I have no background in psychology, and Iʻve only worked as admin in a behavioral/mental health organization, but I know that that can’t be good. Itʻs brainwashing.
I guess, for me, balancing this looks like sharing the bad and the good. Life isnʻt perfect, and itʻs okay to share that youʻre not doing good. No one person can truly be always happy. To not share how you truly feel, often times makes you feel even worse. Pent up emotions turn into outbursts that can be mentally and physically damaging to yourself and your loved ones.
There is a fine line between gratitude and happiness and not recognizing awful and unacceptable situations. I am learning this right now. I learned this in my previous job. I was extremely grateful for having a job during a pandemic but the feelings I had while working messed with my mental health so badly. When I finally quit, it was my decision to be done with the situation. I had tolerated enough, and was absolutely grateful through it all, but after a point that did nothing for my mental health and wellbeing. Itʻs important to address the problem and not “oh, itʻs fine” it all the way into a deep depression. It is tiresome to relentlessly focus on the positive and it can also be naive.
I had to do a little research to understand exactly where this term came from and did not find much other than it was coined by psychologists (no surprise there). I am not too sure who, but itʻs accepted that it was created in the U.S. because of the incessant outlook of always being positive in mainstream culture.
To sum it up, itʻs important to try and create that balance. Positive outlook can be a really good thing, but itʻs also OK to feel terrible or not be happy (especially during this time). And again, everything you see on social media or the internet isnʻt always believable. I am really not saying that to be positive is stupid, because it is not. I still read books, blogs, posts that encourage us to have a better outlook on life and I agree. But, again, there is a line you need to draw in order to preserve and protect your peace by recognizing how far is too far for yourself.
Happy Curl, Happy Girl
Curly Island Girl