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Why we need to stop spreading toxic positivity and save our relationships

Why we need to stop spreading toxic positivity and save our relationships

Inspiring people and making them feel positive is the most amazing thing you can do for them. Supporting people when they are facing a crisis is something they would remember for their lifetime, but doing it right is not everyone’s cup of tea. And it could be possible that many of us might be ruining our relationships by trying to make our near ones positive while they they are trying to process difficult emotions. (Also read: Tips to develop positive mindset while facing challenges)

Many a time, people feel stifled by all the toxic positivity coming their way as it ends up making them feel burdened, misunderstood or even like a failure. Someone who is grieving over death of a relative would not like to hear – ‘it’s all going to be okay’ or ‘you will be fine.’ Similarly, a person who has lost their job would most likely be tired of hearing – ‘look at the positive side’ or ‘stay positive’. To prevent overdosing someone with this toxic positivity, sometimes all you have to do is to listen to the person if you have nothing appropriate to say.

“Toxic positivity is the belief that no matter how dreadful or difficult the situation is, people need to maintain a positive mindset. “Good vibes only” is an approach to live a good life. And while there are benefits to being idealistic and fencing in positive thinking, toxic positivity instead rejects difficult emotions in favour of a cheerful and positive appearance,” says Dr. Pallavi Joshi, Consultant Psychologist at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi.

Life isn’t always positive and one cannot reject negative emotions that are part and parcel of life. All kinds of emotions need an outlet and people should acknowledge sadness, frustration, grief, and anger too, just like they approve of positive emotions.

“It’s great for people who are tough and jump back from adversity but there’s always some lingering parts of that pain that is left behind. It’s sort of a dysfunctional way of working with your emotions. It needs healing, it needs acknowledgment. Giving emotions like sadness, frustration, grief, anger and fear a negative connotation can be extremely harmful in the long run. That is why the word positivity isn’t always so positive. It can lead to gaslighting and much worse, says Bhoomeeka Jain, Psychologist and relationship expert, founder The Desi Therapist.

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Dr Pallavi says toxic positivity takes positive mindset to an overgeneralized extreme and this attitude doesn’t just stress the importance of hopefulness, it keeps down and contradict any trace of human emotions that aren’t strongly happy or positive.

Antidote to toxic positivity: Be careful with your words

Saying things like ‘be tough’, ‘why are you so weak,’ ‘it’s not a big deal,’ don’t be a baby çome on’, ‘just look at the bright side of it’. Aren’t these phrases familiar? These things not only make a person feel way worse but makes them feel that their pain isn’t that important.

“They may feel like they are a burden and their emotions don’t have any value. This can lead to isolation of the worst kind. It can make the person feel small and alone. Once a person feels this way, they may start to bottle things up which may lead to dangerous consequences for them and their mental health. We must be careful with our words, because they can cut deep,” says psychologist Bhoomeeka Jain.

So, the next time someone is going through something just be there to hear them out. Just a simple “I understand” or “I’m here for you” is enough, concludes the psychologist.

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