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Toxic Positivity

Posted on: Monday, August 3rd, 2020

It may seem contradictory that positivity can be used in a negative way. However, pitching positivity and promoting a constant ‘positive outlook’ can be overused to a point where it becomes toxic. When we pretend our feelings are not there or pretend we are fine when we are not, we are denying our own internal state and truth around our own unique experience as a human being. An example of toxic positivity could include someone trying to provide sympathy in a situation that ends up making the other person feel worse. Encouraging someone diagnosed with depression/anxiety to ‘just feel better’ or ‘think positively’ can be impossible for some and can instigate misunderstanding about mental illness. Also a focus on presenting ourselves positively may limit our ability to feel feelings that should not be avoided, like sorrow, grief, loss, hurt, fear, etc.


On social media, everyone is projecting their best selves: whether that be in the way they look, what they are doing in their lives, their successes, being in ‘perfect’ relationships or always showing they are content/happy with their lives. As we all know, life is not that perfect. We may see on Facebook and Instagram that there are these recurrent messages to not let negative thoughts or energy affect you or to be only surrounded with supportive/positive people. However,  we all are going to experience difficult situations and toxic people at some point in our lives. Learning from these hardships is what allows us to grow and learn. 


When we are struggling, having someone to simply listen and provide empathy can be helpful. Whether that includes going to see a counsellor/psychologist or talking to a good friend or family member.  Adding a positive spin is not always the answer and validating someone else’s pain can be powerful and relieving. 


If you feel you may need further support and understanding towards your own mental health, please feel free to book a counselling session at Journey Counseling at 403-619-8558 or if you are in need of immediate assistance, contact the Distress Centre at 403-266-4357.

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