Mental Health Mondays – 8. Toxic Positivity

Sunday, 18th of September, 2022

6 o’ clock in the afternoon…

I just woke up from a two and a half hour nap and felt that I was hit by a bus.

I rarely nap, I hate the feeling afterwards, but after about 30 hours of travelling in 4 days (around 60 hours of buses, trains, planes and running around airports in the last 15 days), my body and mind just gave up.

A week later and I still have a lingering cold, I missed a few important gatherings I wanted to go to but couldn’t and just woke up from one and a half hour nap. I’m flying again on Monday at 6:25 in the morning (I’ll probably be in Slovenia by the time this is out) and I’m not sure if my body can cope.

I’ve been trying different remedies, I’m taking vitamins, trying to exercise and rest as much as possible, but nothing seems to be effective, at least not to the degree needed for me to function at least a satisfactory level.

Inevitably, I’ve been complaining about it, because I’m exhausted. I know it doesn’t help in anything and I try not to do it as much but it’s OK to not feel well and not hide it.

Feeling guilty because you are sad or angry, hiding painful emotions, dismissing other people’s difficult feelings, ignoring your problems, only posting ideal photos on social media, and reciting ‘positive’ quotes about tough situations are all examples of what’s called toxic positivity.

I’m sure most of us have been told these before:

  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • Just be positive!
  • It can always be worse, be grateful for what you have

And the list goes on.

I noticed that a lot of people do it (sometimes even I fall into the trap of doing it) and I absolutely hate it. Emotional intelligence in general, and empathy in particular is all about identifying and acknowledging the other person’s feelings, and respecting what they are going through without judgement.

We all have been guilty of ignoring our and other people’s feelings and promoting all this (toxic) positivity. Yes there’s always worse and I’m grateful for what I have, but there’s also better. Also, not everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it’s just (bad) luck, coincidence or unfortunate circumstances. Most importantly, we don’t always have to be positive, as long as sadness and pessimism don’t take over and disrupt our functionality.

Here’s some photos from my recent travels. I didn’t have time to see much of any city, just a couple of hours in each as I had to work and travel. I’d rather I travelled for leisure, rather than this, but I’m doing the best considering the circumstances. I’m still exhausted and I hope this doesn’t continue for long. Today I’m not that positive about it, maybe tomorrow I’ll be, but it’s OK.

Have you experienced toxic positivity? How do you deal with it?