Is there a dark side behind our positive feelings?
Maybe you have experienced a scenario like this before, you’re pouring yourself some wine, or beer on a nice Monday morning because you received some bad news from work, your projects were behind schedule so your boss informed you that you’re laid-off temporarily, and then came an email from a colleague with these cold words, “It’s okay, cheer up!”
Toxic positivity, I’m assuming most of us are already familiar with this but for those who are not, let me explain it simply. Toxic positivity is a behavior where people tend to stay a-okay all the time regardless of the situation. It is a state of mind in which one tends to turn around and face away from the negative. Does this sound familiar? In reality, it is more common than we think it is.
To get a good grasp of the difference between a toxic-positive person and a true, sincerely sympathizing friend, here is a clear guide by Whitney Hawkins Goodman, a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) and owner of The Collaborative Counseling Center in Florida.
The thing is, there is a misconception about having a generally positive outlook versus being toxic-positive. When we have a good outlook on life it does not mean that we run away from negative situations. It simply means that whenever we encounter problems, we face it, we look for solutions, and if we can’t solve it we let it be until such a time that we have recovered and fully ready to move on.
Toxic-positive behavior, on the other hand, ignores the situation at hand and rushes on to the feelings that lie beyond. It denies the impact of the issue and makes one believe that it is possible to skip the negative emotions and jump straight into as if the issue had been resolved already.
Acquaintances who simply say, “Cheer up mate, there are other worse issues out there”, is one example. Although they are not denying the existence of the current concern but by comparing the problem to make it seem as a lesser blow is unhealthy. Pain is pain. There are no levels of pain regardless of the situation.
Here I have listed down three side-effects that are taking place whenever we try to be all cool and good. You may not have noticed it but in the end, it is only our selves that we’re fooling. It is only our mind that we’re tricking. It is only our own heart that we’re trying to make believe that everything is okay when it is not.
1. You deny yourself of authenticity
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” -Carl Gustav Jung
Let’s face it. We can’t be all happy and gay all the time like the Teletubbies, so when we force ourselves to cheer up and mask what we truly feel, we deny ourselves of presenting who we are. We are choosing to display emotions that are not us at the moment. We are wearing a costume and putting up an act.
Most of the time this comes from the desire to curb our vulnerability, to hide our weakness because there is a huge uncertainty on how the people around us will react and respond. Breaking down our walls would mean that we are trusting the person whom we decided to confide in fully and the risk of being misunderstood or not being understood at all is there, waving in front of our faces.
This creates a feeling of uneasiness so most of us would rather keep our walls standing however by over protecting us, we are denying ourselves of feeling the what-is. We are by-passing on the now, we are opting to display a certain person that is not us in the present, and yes, we are choosing to present a fake persona.
2. You deny yourself of growth
“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?” -John Keats
Let’s face it. Growth comes from going through a painful process of maturing, from expanding our boundaries. It comes from perseverance, from discipline, from pushing further. However, if we are to stop facing the hardships, if we are setting our self in a smile-and-run behavior, there would be no pushing through, no moving forward.
By denying ourselves to feel disappointment, fear, anger, annoyance, guilt, sadness, all these negative emotions, we are hindering our growth. We are crippling our human capacity, we are closing doors on the opportunities that will help build our endurance, patience, not only the physical aspects but more so on mental, psychological, and spiritual. Simply put we are denying ourselves of a nice, sturdy backbone.
3. You deny yourself of valuable relationships
“If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.” -Carl Gustav Jung
Lastly, toxic positivity strains our relationships with people. We all have problems and if I can’t relate with you because you’re all good vibes only, what’s the reason for me to still be friends with you?
Valuable relationships are built on many things, but the main ones for me are love, trust, respect, and relatability if there is such a word. More so, in this digital age where communication has become almost limitless, it is important that to keep firm ties with the people around us, we remind ourselves that, hey, it’s okay to feel angry, scared, lonely or dismayed, because whether we like it or not, most of the time, these negative emotions shared with the people who are important to us, these dark tunnels are the ones that bind us together strongly more than ever.
In reality, good times spent with friends weigh lighter as compared to bad times walked together. Laughs are good but tears shared deepen relationships. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but pure authenticity, and the strongest relationships that I know are those that went through great pains hand in hand.
I am not saying we all choose to be in despair, let me be clear on that.
Moreover, I am not saying that we dwell on it, that we reside in our dark emotions, that we submit ourselves fully as if the word hope does not exist.
What I want you to understand is that it’s okay. If you’re hurting right now, it’s okay. Accept the pain, embrace it, because the only way you can face your negative emotions head-on, the only way you can work through this, is by acknowledging its presence. Admitting the truth is the only way to push through.
“In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn.” -Octavia Butler
When we try so hard to keep afloat when in reality our boat is already pleading for us to send out an SOS when the fear of being seen by others as we are sinking has become greater as compared to the fear of drowning itself, something is eating us from the inside and we need to be aware of it.
Hey, I know things are tough at the moment. Let the tears fall. Let it break you, I know this might sound insensitive but, only in the breaking that we learn fully of ourselves, our truths, our boundaries, our strengths. It is in the breaking that we learn lessons on how to become fully human, for our selves, and the people around us.
Sending you a warm hug today. Lovelots.
Hello! Thank you for reading this from The Mindful Modus.
My name is Princess of The Mindful Modus, a blogger on a mission of helping people develop a healthy approach to work and life by incorporating mindful practices to everyday, mundane self care routines. All the contents of my blog are decaf-initely free but a coffee can greatly help me stay awake! Thank you so much!