The Dangers of Toxic Positivity: Why You Shouldn’t Embrace Negativity
As much as we don’t want to look at the world through rose-colored glasses, there is also a dark side to positivity. The dangers of toxic positivity are real, but is there such a thing as too much positivity.
There are lots of benefits to being more positive in your life:
- helps you see the glass as half full instead of half empty
- helps you attract better people into your life
- can even help you live longer
But what if all this focus on being positive has unintended consequences? And what if embracing that darker side actually makes us happier?
What is toxic positivity?
Toxic positivity is when you’re being positive to the point where it’s no longer helpful. It can mean putting on a fake smile, pretending everything is rosy when it isn’t, or saying that everything is going to be okay when you know it won’t be. It’s denying or ignoring any negativity or problems in your life, positive behavior taken to the extreme.
On the other hand, healthy positivity is being optimistic, hopeful, and choosing to focus on the good in any given situation, even if there are negative aspects as well. For example, if you’re going through a break-up, a healthy dose of positivity might see you focusing on the fact that you can now find a better partner.
The dangers of toxic positivity
Too much positivity can lead you to ignore warning signs, prevent you from taking action, and give you a false sense of security – it can make you complacent, which can lead to problems down the line.
There’s also the fact that by ignoring the negatives in your life, you’re not dealing with them. This can just lead to them escalating, exploding, and coming back to haunt you. If you’ve lost someone, it’s important to let yourself grieve. If you try to ignore the negative feelings, they’re only going to linger and come back to haunt you.
Negativity has benefits too
There’s a side to negativity that we don’t often talk about. Being negative can make you cynical, pessimistic, and jaded – but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad.
Cynicism can be a great way to view the world, which is why we have the likes of George Carlin. He saw the world for how it really was, and he also managed to inspire others to do the same – but only if you have a sense of humor about it.
For example, cynicism can cause you to be more aware of your surroundings, which can make you less likely to fall victim to scammers or be taken advantage of by others. It can also make you less gullible, which is a good thing. Yes, you might not be as easily impressed by the latest new thing or technology, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a lot of stuff out there that’s just unnecessary and doesn’t add value to our lives.
So, should we embrace the dark side?
We’ve outlined the dangers of going overboard on the positivity, but we haven’t really talked about the positives of embracing the darker side. There’s a difference between being negative and being realistic, though.
For example, if you’re feeling down and pessimistic, it’s easy to say that life has no meaning, which isn’t really helpful. But if you’re feeling down and pessimistic because you’ve just been through a tragic event, then it’s more likely to be realistic.
The trick is to leverage the negatives in a positive way. If you’re feeling down because you’ve lost a loved one, find a way to channel that energy into something useful. If you’re feeling cynical about the state of the world, find ways to change it for the better.
Negativity may have a bad rap, but it’s important to acknowledge the bad stuff in order to actively work towards improving your life. There are real dangers to toxic positivity, and it’s important to understand that there is a time and place for both positive and negative thinking. Learning to cope with negative emotions rather than suppressing them, as well as finding the fine line between positive and negative can be difficult.
Psychologists, meditations, and various apps like Sensera, which will only take you 10 minutes a day with various CBT audio sessions and exercises, will be able to help you.
It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to be 100% positive or negative all the time. There’s a time and place for everything, and it’s important to find the right balance that works for you.