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It’s OK to not be OK — but not many people don’t feel that way.
According to https://www.healthline.com/, toxic positivity is the premise that regardless of a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should solely have a positive mindset, per Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, a clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania who specializes in topics like anxiety disorders and self-esteem.
Toxic positivity could take on many forms: it might range from a family member who gets upset at their loved ones for explaining why they are upset instead of just listening and understanding their frustration. It can also look like someone telling a person under hardships to “look on the bright side” or “be grateful for what you have,” according to the article.
Toxic positivity is also potentially a friend who posts productivity messages and accomplishes quite a lot as if they have something to prove.
“It can be your own feelings that you shouldn’t dwell on your feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or fear,” according to the article.
The article in https://www.healthline.com/ reports that toxic positivity reveals an underlying concern that negative emotions are “seen as inherently bad.”
The article adds that positivity and promoting happiness are a constant, while genuine human emotional experiences are not flushed out or discarded and not recognized as they should.
“The pressure to appear ‘OK’ invalidates the range of emotions we all experience,” says Carolyn Karoll, a psychotherapist in Baltimore, Md., in the article. “It can give the impression that you are defective when you feel distress, which can be internalized in a core belief that you are inadequate or weak.”
Karoll adds that “Judging yourself for feeling pain, sadness, jealousy” which are all in the spectrum of human experiences and emotions can lead to what is described as secondary emotions, “such as shame, that are much more intense and maladaptive.”
“They distract us from the problem at hand, and [they] don’t give space for self-compassion, which is so vital to our mental health,” Karoll said in the article.
Zuckerman added that “toxic positivity, at its center, is an avoidance technique used to further invalidate any internal discomfort.” Yet, when people avoid their emotions, people could cause more problems.
A Trusted Source study revealed in the article that when people try not to think about a topic, they tend to think more about it.
“Avoidance or suppression of emotional discomfort leads to increased anxiety, depression, and overall worsening of mental health,” Zuckerman said in the story.
“Failure to effectively process emotions in a timely manner can lead to a myriad of psychological difficulties, including disrupted sleep, increased substance abuse, risk of an acute stress response, prolonged grief, or even PTSD,” she says.
“The pandemic is triggering our need to control and avoid uncertainty,” Dr. Jamie Long, psychologist and owner of The Psychology Group in Florida, added.
“With something as unpredictable and uncertain as COVID-19, a knee-jerk reaction might be to slap on an overly optimistic or positive face to avoid accepting a painful reality,” she explains in the article.
Since the pandemic, about six in 10 Americans have faced strong negative emotions like anxiety, sadness, loneliness, or feelings of hopelessness, according to reports NORC, an independent, non-partisan research organization at the University of Chicago.
“[Toxic positivity] is invalidating the real hardships people face during this time,” Karoll says in the story. “Putting one foot in front of the other is an accomplishment for many during this global pandemic.”
“The pressure to be productive,” she adds, “leaves many, if not most people, feeling inadequate and ashamed that they are simply trying to make it through the day without a panic attack or crying spell.”
The article also encourages people to not always buy into the idea of being busy despite social media showing people to do the absolute most like start a side hustle, be productive, learn a foreign language, and the like.
“During times of stress, our brains are full. We do not always have the cognitive capacity to tackle something with a heavy learning curve and take on a new task,” Karoll said.