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What is toxic positivity?

It is the idea or belief that you should always have a positive spin or attitude towards something, regardless of personal circumstances or issues. Whilst the notion of a positive mindset, mantra, habits and attitude is a great idea, it is not always possible. The result equals to an individual feeling guilty or as if they have failed themselves to live up to this “good vibes only” approach to life.

Here is a classic example

A positive goal most people seem to preach is getting up at 5am each morning. Whilst in theory this seems like a fantastic idea, with many benefits behind it, it is not always possible for everyone to do. Some people work night shifts, some have children who don’t sleep through the night, others have restless night sleep and others simply cannot force their eyes open before 7am or later. We are all different, and have different matters in our lives that can impact very diverse reactions and responses. A one fit all-motivational quote can result into a very toxic outcome.

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Toxic harm

Responses such as “positivity is a choice” and “everything happens for a reason” or “stay positive, look on the bright side” can be incredibly harmful. Whilst it is said with the best intentions, it produces a huge amount of pressure to the individual who is struggling to cope with a certain situation or outcome. If a person cannot shift their mindset, they can feel shame and guilt. They will feel as though they have failed themselves to be positive and feel embarrassed they cannot find their “happiness” in that moment, believing they may be weak and have failed in some way.

It can also prevent personal growth.

To avoid ones feelings and try to suppress or push aside can prevent personal development and abilities to handle future stresses. It will become an endless loop where eventually, the individual can experience a breakdown of bottled up emotions. It is always best to feel the pain, respect the feeling and accept the feeling. We have more than one emotion within us – we should not ignore them simply because they appear as “negative”. It is part of being human and we need to allow all our feelings the same value, respect and attention.

It is important to not ignore your emotions – manage them, but do not brush them away. Do not feel shame for feeling anything other than happy. It is ok to feel more than one thing and it is important to experience all feelings – it is part of being human after all.

What about employment?

So how does all this fit in with employment? Simple:

  • If you feel that your work is causing you mental health issues
  • Loss of a job
  • Inability to find the right job or
  • Have toxic working relationships within the workplace

Then it is important to acknowledge these feelings, as they are valid. Having lost a job can be heartbreaking and cause a lot of stress and anxiety, so can working in a toxic environment. Of course, you need to find solutions to resolve workplace issues. These solutions do not mean in forms of mantra, but in forms of action- either changing your situation, resolving your problems with others through communication or finding alternative paths for you to walk. You do not need a quote to change your perspective – you, yourself, in your own way and time can do that.

Mental health is a serious matter to us. We have created a guide specifically to assist in stress and how to minimise it. You can download this guide for free today by following this link: Guides

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