Embrace All Emotions | Transcending Toxic Positivity

Written by Guy Reichard

May 31, 2023

Just Be Positive but only Always (blech!)

The prevalent culture of toxic positivity that seems to pervade our society and social media platforms makes my stomach turn and gives me cause for concern.

While I am a strong proponent of Positive Psychology, it is crucial to acknowledge the significance of our entire emotional spectrum, including the dark and uncomfortable feelings.

In a world where posts and articles urge us to “be positive” and maintain an unwavering positive mindset, we inadvertently invalidate the depth and complexity of our human experiences.

Perpetuating Self Invalidation

Life is a beautiful tapestry of emotions, and each one has its purpose and place. We should not be forced into the belief that we must always see things positively, as it denies the opportunity for growth, authenticity, and true resilience. It perpetuates a serious problem many of us face – that at one time in life we learned to invalidate ourselves and our feelings to fit in, be accepted and acceptable to others, and now we must continue to do so.

Let us not confuse genuine optimism and resilience with positivity. Genuine optimism embraces the acknowledgement of challenges and struggles while maintaining hope and a growth-oriented mindset. Toxic positivity, on the other hand, promotes the suppression or denial of our true feelings, painting a distorted and unrealistic picture of reality.

By constantly urging ourselves and others to “look on the bright side” or “find the silver lining,” we neglect the importance of processing pain, discomfort, and the lessons they hold. It is through facing and embracing and working through these experiences that we discover and build our true strength, learn valuable lessons, and ultimately, grow as individuals.

All Emotions Have a Purpose

Contrary to popular belief, negative emotions serve a vital purpose in our lives. They provide us with the motivation to effect change, to confront obstacles head-on, and to evolve into stronger versions of ourselves.

Let us Destigmatize Discomfort and learn to face it and be with it. When we do, we allow ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow, gaining valuable insights that can inform our future decisions and actions. If we do so, the confidence many of us yearn for will be forged.

Toxic positivity not only invalidates our struggles but also creates an environment where people feel pressured to wear a mask of happiness, fearing that expressing any negative emotion will be met with judgment or rejection. And we know it will.

We must foster an environment of empathy, compassion, acceptance and understanding, allowing individuals to express their emotions authentically and be met with support and without judgment.

By embracing our dark and uncomfortable emotions, we foster empathy and create genuine connections with others.

When we share our struggles, we invite others to do the same, creating a space of trust and understanding.

By acknowledging the complexities of the human experience, we create an environment where individuals can feel supported and empowered to navigate their challenges authentically.

As a coach, I feel a responsibility to encourage the cultivation of emotional intelligence and authenticity. Let us champion a holistic approach to personal growth – one that acknowledges the undeniable value of all our emotions, the positive and so-called negative alike.

By rejecting toxic positivity, we open ourselves up to profound growth, resilience, and empathy.

Embrace your emotions, face your discomfort, and watch as you flourish into the best version of yourself.

The next time you come across a post promoting toxic positivity, take a moment to reflect on its implications and consider helping to cultivate a culture that values authenticity, emotional balance, vulnerability and connection. Together, we can redefine the narrative and create a world that cherishes the power of emotional honesty, with ourselves and with one another.

Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below or reach out and let’s have a chat about this.


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