Positivity vs Toxic Positivity

I like to think of myself as a fairly positive person. I make jokes about how I’m Pollyanna and I’ll see the good in any situation. Yes the world we live in is kind of, well, a dumpster fire, but I feel life is to short to stay down in the muck. So, I try to send out positive vibes into the universe as much as I can. One of my favorite shirts says “Spread Positivity” One of my favorite shirts of Ollie’s says “Every Day Gets Better”. My word of the year is joy and we do our best to choose joy every day.

I’ve been reading increasing amounts of information about toxic positivity lately. And I think it’s extremely important to distinguish the difference between positivity and toxic positivity. Unfortunately, those of us that try to spread positive vibes out into the world somehow are getting lumped into the toxic positivity category and that just isn’t the case at all.

I wouldn’t dream of telling someone who is in the thick of something heavy that they need to “just get over it” or to “cheer up” I would tell them, this is hard. I understand. I hear you and I see you. We can do hard things. You take the time you need. It’s ok to not be ok right now.

There’s a huge difference between support and toxic positivity. I do not believe in toxic positivity and living life with “Only positive and good vibes”. Bad days come and I let myself feel those feels when I need to. But overall, I choose to look for the good and the positive in most situations. And I feel like sometimes those who look for the bright side are chastised for doing so – now more than ever. You share the good in your life on social media and it leads to ridicule and judgement. You know what, life is not all sunshine and roses but I don’t really care to put the skeletons in my closet out for the world to see. So yes, I do tend to share the good and happy things.

Again, as I said above, life is too damn short to be miserable all the time. 2020 is a shit show, but I can’t let myself dwell on it too long, it would make me absolutely crazy. So I look for the good wherever I can find it. Distance learning is a challenge but we keep it positive and upbeat for Oliver and we’re making the most of it. I miss restaurants and spending time with friends and thrift shopping and all of those things, but my family is safe, I have ways of keeping in touch with people, we can order take out from almost all of our favorite places and there is online thrift shopping. I guess I am making lemons out of lemonade and I’m not going to apologize for it. But I’m not going to tell someone who is struggling to see the light that they need to suck it up and deal. I understand this is hard. So for me, that’s the difference between positivity and toxic positivity. I will be positive when it works understanding when it doesn’t. And maybe all the doom and gloomers can try to do the same, instead of shaming me for my healthy positivity, you could just smile and say, ok, you do you. Just a little food for thought anyway!

6 thoughts on “Positivity vs Toxic Positivity

  1. I think you explained the difference really well. I try and be as positive as I can, especially for other people. However, I know that it’s not always easy or possible. You have to feel the emotions sometimes. It’s not great for a lot of people, but I want to hold people up – not put them down in the name of being “positive” like “just cheer up” or whatever.


  2. I absolutely agree with you. I am a positive person by nature, my glass is always half-full, but I’d never dismiss or diminish the struggles we all go through. I have days where I am sad and I wallow and I allow those feelings to myself and others. I also don’t think that everything can be solved with positivity (I wish!), but I do believe that having a general positive outlook on things does help moving forward.

    Having said that, I often feel that toxic positivity isn’t even positivity at all … it’s fake mantras in order to NOT deal with things and those rarely help.

  3. I’ve always thought your positivity and attitude is great. There is a massive difference to being a positive, glass half full person and being someone who spreads toxic positivity (which isn’t positivity at all).

    I also try to see the glass as half full but we all have days when that isn’t quite so easy and feeling sad/worried/stressed about life at the moment is completely ok.

    I encountered the worst form of toxic positivity last year when I was worried out of my mind about my Dad’s eye operations. A so-called friend sent the most breezy and insensitive Whatsapp – completely discounting the stress we as a family were experiencing and the worry we felt. If someone doesn’t know what to say, not saying something patronizing is a pretty good start. It wasn’t positive, it was pure toxic and I ended the friendship earlier this year. I felt instantly more positive lol!

  4. This is so well said Beth. I really relate–I also try to find the positive in most situations, but I also would never try to put a positive spin on someone’s suffering. This is good food for thought Beth!

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