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The Downside of Toxic Positivity

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

At the start of a new year, many of us fall into the toxic positivity trap - "A new year, a new me!" Toxic positivity is defined as when someone insists that everything be seen in an overly positive light, no matter what the situation. It may force us to put up walls and ignore our feelings, instead of recognising them as valid and dealing with them head-on. Unfortunately, this can have a negative effect on our mental health and well-being if we don't take the time to address our emotions properly.


what is toxic positivity - 4 ways to beat the winter blues and depression - article by melbourne psychologists at the inner collective

What is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic positivity is the idea that you should always think positively, no matter what situation you're in or how you're feeling. It encourages people to ignore their negative emotions and push away any thoughts or feelings that don't fit into a “positive” box. This can lead to an overgeneralisation of how we view life—everything becomes either good or bad, with no middle ground. This type of thinking can be unhelpful because it doesn't recognise the nuances of a situation or acknowledge the impact of a situation. It also prevents us from taking the time to process difficult emotions like sadness, anger, fear, or guilt, which can be important for developing resilience and maintaining good mental health.


The Harmful Effects of Toxic Positivity

When we ignore our emotions rather than addressing them with sensitivity and compassion, it can lead to issues such as depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation. Imagine a box stuffed full of the "negative stuff" until it seems like it's going to burst. Toxic positivity ignores the fact that not everything in life will be rainbows and butterflies—sometimes things won’t go as planned or there will be hardships that need to be dealt with in order for us to move forward and progress in life. Ignoring these issues only makes them worse in the long run by preventing us from having the necessary conversations needed for healing.


How You Can Combat Toxic Positivity

The key to combating toxic positivity is learning how to recognise your true emotions without judgment or shame. Acknowledge your feelings without trying to push them away or judge yourself for having them in the first place. Once you've done this, try talking it out with someone—it could be a friend or family member who understands where you're coming from or even a psychologist. Taking the time to talk through your struggles will help you gain perspective on what's causing your discomfort so that you can work through it effectively without resorting back into toxic positivity thinking patterns.



Toxic positivity is a common problem among many people today who are trying desperately hard to stay positive at all costs—even if it means ignoring their true feelings along the way. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to remain optimistic about life’s challenges, there comes a point where holding onto too much positivity can actually become detrimental to one's mental health and well-being. To combat this problem, make sure you take some time each day to acknowledge any negative emotions that may come up without judgment or shame so that they can be addressed head-on rather than ignored completely. By doing this regularly (and seeking professional help if necessary), you’ll soon find yourself becoming more resilient and better able to handle whatever life throws your way!

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