We experience painful emotions from time to time. While these emotions are unpleasant, they must be felt and dealt with openly and honestly for good psychological health. Toxic Positivity refers to avoiding, suppressing, or rejecting painful emotions and only focusing on feelings that make you feel good. Toxic Positivity includes denying your emotions or being dismissed by others through words like "it's a small matter" and "forget about it". While these statements might mean well, it is unhelpful and lacks empathy.
People may exhibit Toxic Positivity out of good intentions and to uphold Positivity. However, it may cause the hurting person to feel dismissed, uncared and even guilty for feeling sad. It could prevent them from being vulnerable and sharing their struggles in the future. So instead of rushing to focus on the positive, acknowledge the person's feelings, show empathy and be supportive towards your partner, family member, friend or even your own emotional experiences.
Sometimes, it is necessary to set aside painful emotions temporarily. But suppressing them long-term could be harmful because it could prevent people from processing their feelings and overcoming distress. Connecting with your feelings (whether painful or pleasure emotions) helps you process and decide how to act. Focusing only on the positive or exhibiting Toxic Positivity could be harmful in the long term because as you suppress your painful emotions, you may also eventually suppress the happy or joyous emotions.
Being optimistic and hopeful is essential to growth. However, concentrating on the positive at the expense of denying painful emotions dismisses your suffering. So instead of playing into Toxic Positivity, acknowledge your painful feelings without judgment. You could journal or share with a trusted someone how you feel and process the meaning you derive from this challenging experience. Meaning-making leads to resilience and growth.
It is helpful to apply stabilization techniques such as mindfulness or deep breathing as you cope with difficult emotions. You can also reach out to a trusted and supportive network for support. Processing your painful emotions with a professional counsellor or a psychotherapist can help you make meaning and move forward from your challenging experience.
Restoring Peace Counselling and Consultancy offers counselling and psychotherapy for stress, anxiety, depression, trauma and various mental health challenges. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848.
Keywords: toxic Positivity, therapy, counselling, validate, emotions, support