Mindset is a vital, typically missed element of well being — particularly as we study to view well being past outward look. Ditching damaging ideas is an effective first step, however changing them with a “good vibes solely” mentality could be equally detrimental, a frame of mind referred to more and more as poisonous positivity.
A wholesale rejection of negativity in all its kinds, poisonous positivity can inadvertently invalidate emotions and experiences — and make individuals really feel like they’re failing or doing one thing fallacious, explains Dr. Nicole Lacherza-Drew, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist and proprietor of Vici Psychological Care.
“There aren’t at all times going to be positives, and that’s OK,” she says.
Learn on for real-life examples of poisonous optimism, warning indicators to search for — and tips about learn how to keep away from giving or receiving it.
What Is Poisonous Positivity?
Poisonous positivity refers to the concept we have to see the brilliant facet of each state of affairs regardless of how dangerous, difficult, or missing in shiny sides it is likely to be. (A traditional instance is the “that is tremendous” meme.)
The harmful results of negativity are properly documented. Not solely is it a downer by definition, it can hamper cognitive perform and cloud our judgment, impairing our skill to carry out situationally.
However forcing positivity could make a state of affairs worse, particularly one now we have the ability to alter.
“Poisonous positivity is mainly the concept it doesn’t matter what occurs or what the end result is, one ought to have a constructive mindset or attempt to discover the constructive within the state of affairs or end result,” Lacherza-Drew says.
Whereas this appears preferable to beating your self up over errors and setbacks, “poisonous positivity could be thought of a type of gaslighting,” she provides.
7 Relatable, Actual-Life Poisonous Positivity Examples
What number of of those conditions sound acquainted?
- You’re speaking along with your good friend about your horrible boss and profess that you just’re determined for a brand new job. She responds with one thing like “it is best to simply be glad for what you could have.”
- You speak in confidence to your mother-in-law that you just’re struggling to get pregnant. Her response? “Every thing occurs for a cause.”
- You inform your co-worker that your associate obtained scary well being information. They are saying, “it could possibly be worse.”
- You’re taking a course and might’t perceive a key idea. If you speak to your teacher, he says, “Simply keep constructive. You’ll get it!”
- You lose the one that you love pet whilst you’re away on a enterprise journey — then your flight house is canceled. The airline agent says, “God solely provides us what we are able to deal with.”
- You’re midway by way of your first 60-minute class at a neighborhood biking studio. You’re not feeling robust sufficient so as to add extra resistance, so that you say one thing snarky and humorous to your teacher. She says, “Optimistic vibes solely right here! No complaining!”
- Your children are out sick once more, and also you’re working from residence whereas attempting to not catch their germs. The home is a large number and also you’re exhausted. You inform your sister that you just’re feeling overwhelmed. Her recommendation? “However on the brilliant facet, you get to work in sweatpants!”
What’s Incorrect with Poisonous Positivity?
What’s fallacious with these eventualities — and why shouldn’t you attempt to give individuals a little bit enhance once they’re feeling down? Whereas they appear useful, “they don’t seem to be efficient at serving to a person work by way of their feelings and are available out of it in a greater place,” explains Kalley Hartman, LMFT, a licensed marriage and household therapist in Newport Seaside, California.
As a substitute of serving to you keep motivated, domesticate a more healthy self-image, and develop as an individual, poisonous positivity retains you beholden to unimaginable requirements of accomplishment and success. Right here’s how senseless positivity harms your well being:
Prevents you from coping with your emotions
Not solely does poisonous positivity stop you from coping with feelings, it additionally “creates a false sense of happiness that depends on denying or ignoring sure elements of actuality,” Hartman says. That may result in additional points down the road.
Retains you from rising as an individual
And, she provides, “once we are consistently pushing away our uncomfortable emotions, it makes it more durable for us to study from our experiences and develop.” This makes it really feel such as you’re in Groundhog Day, making the identical errors time and again.
“This angle could make individuals really feel like they’re not allowed to precise their damaging emotions, which might result in emotions of disgrace and guilt,” provides Candace Kotkin-De Carvalho, LSW, LCADC, CCS, CCTP.
Can extend your struggling
You would possibly discover your sense of actuality shift, as you begin to really feel just like the dangerous issues are all of your fault.
“This may be particularly damaging when it prevents individuals from looking for assist, as they could really feel like their issues are too insignificant or not price addressing,” Kotkin-De Carvalho says.
Could make you are feeling like a failure
If you happen to’re surrounded by individuals who’ve purchased into “Fortunate Lady Syndrome,” you would possibly (wrongly) really feel such as you’re falling brief, Lacherza-Drew says. “They could imagine they’re doing one thing fallacious or one thing is fallacious with them.”
Poisonous Positivity Vs. Optimism: What’s the Distinction?
In line with Hartman, poisonous positivity “entails denying or ignoring troublesome feelings, whereas optimism entails sustaining a constructive outlook within the face of adversity.”
Additional, “poisonous positivity typically has the impact of invalidating one other individual’s emotions or experiences, whereas optimism is used to inspire and encourage individuals,” she says.
The sensible variations between optimism and poisonous positivity can seem nuanced at first, however they change into clearer with observe.
Say you’re having a tricky time. You misplaced your job or hit a tough patch along with your associate. You go to a trusted good friend for recommendation.
Optimism seems to be like: “I’m so sorry you’re coping with this, good friend. I do know it’s arduous proper now. You could be sincere about the way you’re feeling, after which possibly we are able to make an inventory of some good issues taking place or consider some methods I can assist.”
Poisonous positivity reveals up as: “I’m so sorry you’re coping with this, good friend. However you’re robust and resilient, and you’ve got survived one hundred pc of your dangerous days till now. You simply should maintain your chin up and manifest the end result you need. Don’t even take into consideration the ‘what-ifs’! You’ve received this!”
Whereas well-intentioned, the toxically constructive response can do as a lot — if no more — hurt because it does good, answering hardship with hokum and minimizing the seriousness of the state of affairs to the one experiencing it.
Focusing as an alternative on Well being Esteem means appreciating ourselves as we’re proper now, whereas acknowledging that now we have targets and a want to alter. It’s a wholesome stability of optimism and motivation.
10 Warning Indicators of Poisonous Positivity
Listed below are warning indicators to search for (from others or your self):
- You’re feeling shamed for sharing how you are feeling.
- They received’t allow you to complain or be sincere about your emotions.
- You cover your true emotions — particularly on social media.
- They let you know to be constructive, manifest, or imagine in your self extra.
- You solely share feel-good quotes and mantras.
- They attempt to discover the silver lining as an alternative of acknowledging your state of affairs.
- You’re advised to be grateful and cease complaining.
- They let you know to not kill the vibe with negativity.
- You ask for assist and so they share a Pinterest quote.
- They let you know to recover from it or chortle issues off when difficulties come up.
Methods to Keep away from Poisonous Positivity
You may prepare your self to note and keep away from poisonous positivity the identical method you do different habits. It begins with self-awareness, Kotkin-De Carvalho says.
“Pay attention to your individual ideas and emotions, and take note of the way you talk them.” Being conscious of the phrases you utilize — and the way they could be obtained — can assist, she says.
That is simpler to do once you’re writing, so begin along with your texts, DMs and emails. Take a deep breath and browse them once more earlier than hitting ship.
Self-reflection can assist you notice poisonous ideas, phrases and actions, Hartman says. When you study to acknowledge these crimson flags, you’ll be able to reframe them. Avoiding the “toxpos” rabbit gap means slowing down and taking some “me time,” provides Lacherza-Drew.
“We’re human beings — not day by day or each feeling goes to be good or constructive. Realizing that helps diminish poisonous positivity,” she says.
Mindfulness workouts, journaling, and posting sticky-note reminders the place you’ll see them also can maintain you out of the positivity entice.
How will you keep away from spreading unwelcome good vibes? Simply hear, Kotkin-De Carvalho says.
“Not everybody you encounter requires an answer, and generally it’s greatest to simply be there for them, hear, and provide help.”
Methods to Deal With a Toxically Optimistic Particular person
The primary option to cope with a toxically constructive individual? One phrase: Boundaries. Allow them to know their habits isn’t cool with you, and do what you’ll be able to to keep up your individual psychological wellbeing.
Keep in mind you could’t management another person’s habits — solely your response(s), Lacherza-Drew says. Chances are you’ll have to keep away from sure matters, go away the room, change the topic, or restrict the time you spend with somebody.
If you happen to’re up for it, “present a mild reminder that everybody experiences damaging feelings at occasions” suggests Kotkin-De Carvalho. Remind them that powerful stuff is regular. “Allow them to know that you just’re right here for them and that it’s OK to speak about troublesome matters with out judgment.”