You have likely experienced situations where people did not like it when you expressed sadness, anger, discontent, or other negative feelings. You may have been told at some point to smile more or to try to be more positive. Likewise, you may have even received advice to write a gratitude journal where you only focus on positive things that happened that day. While keeping a gratitude journal is not inherently bad, shutting yourself down for negative feelings is not beneficial. Furthermore, it can be damaging in the long term. Let’s explore why.
What is toxic positivity?
Toxic positivity is the expectation to maintain a positive attitude at all cost and to artificially cultivate feelings of happiness and joy while disregarding or suppressing emotions such as anger, sadness, emptiness, and other unpleasant feelings. This phenomenon has gained significant popularity, but it is not beneficial. If you concentrate solely on positive aspects, you disregard negative emotions. A well-rounded and healthy individual should be receptive to both positive and negative experiences because we cannot truly appreciate beauty without experiencing tears and sadness.
Behind toxic positivity lies a person who is afraid of confronting their negative emotions and an environment that lacks the patience and energy to deal with them.
What is the issue with toxic positivity?
Society is fixated on positivity, and if you do not adhere to this norm, you may face disappointment, loneliness, anxiety, and discontentment. You might begin to believe that something is wrong with you. This can also create unrealistic expectations that you can never fulfill. Ultimately, in an attempt to fit in, you may sacrifice your authentic nature and suppress your true feelings to conform to the toxic positivity trends.
Why is feeling all feelings important?
It is crucial to allow ourselves to experience all of our emotions and avoid becoming numb to them. No matter how challenging a feeling may be, each feeling has a purpose and can teach us something. By acknowledging and exploring our sadness or anger, we can gain a new understanding of ourselves. Consequently, each emotion can help us comprehend ourselves at a deeper level. Additionally, when we process our negative emotions, we can experience joy and happiness on a more profound level, which is not superficial but authentic and profound.
What to do instead?
Permit yourself to experience all of your emotions and process them as they arise. Instead of forcing yourself to transition straight to happiness and joy, try to sit with your negative emotions for a while and try to understand them. By doing so, you can gain a more profound comprehension of yourself, your desires, goals, and values. Ultimately, you will realize that negative emotions are not inherently bad, and they are valuable and necessary for every individual to experience.
Every emotion provides an opportunity for self-discovery, and by fully allowing yourself to experience them, you can achieve inner peace, knowing that all your emotions are valid and belong to you.
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