Yes, Too Much Positivity Can Be Toxic

No really, we love social media, and the way it allows us to stay connected to people, be in the loop on the hip and happening, and take in inspo for just about anything we can think of. But on the same notion, we can all agree that our mental health may not always be equipped with what social media has to offer.

Instagram gives you the impression that everyone else in the world has it all together. It encourages the idea that being happy is the ultimate end goal and if we’re not always happy then something’s wrong. And we’re one #inspiring quote away from being too happy for our own good.

just stop pls

‘Cause really what’s so wrong about feeling down once in a while??

Enter: toxic positivity. It’s a buzzword that’s floating around the Internet, and is the idea that telling people to be happy and positive all the time can be more harmful than helpful. Katyana Azman, child psychologist at Pantai Hospital KL says, “In my opinion, toxic positivity derives from society’s need to respond with placatory platitudes, which act to console a struggling individual by offering them calming phrases.” While they probably mean well, Katyana thinks that it often lacks a constructive context and doesn’t encourage the person to do something about their problems, and instead, keeps them focused on “feel-good thoughts” that are only temporary.

Feeling good and meh = a part of life

Just having one of those days… you feel us?

Riding the ups and downs of this thing called life is really the healthier way to go. It’s unrealistic to think that it’s possible to have a life with no troubles, no problems. It doesn’t exist! As Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck says in his book, “Don’t hope for a life without problems. There’s no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems.” TBH that sounds a lot more achievable to us than trying to be happy all the time, and we’re already feeling a little better about ourselves. Thanks, Mark.

“Riding the ups and downs of this thing called life is the healthier way to go. It’s unrealistic to … have a life with no troubles.”

Voice out

When you speak your reality, a weight gets lifted

Take a look at the people you’re constantly surrounded by. Is there anyone who’s spreading this “good vibes only” mentality that’s affecting you? It’s nice having positive friends around, don’t get us wrong, but a friend or colleague who’s constantly harping on how you should be happy all the time might really be toxic because they’re really avoiding the issue at hand. They might not even realise it! Sarah Zehan, a clinical psychologist, says that it can be helpful to be honest and say how you feel. But if that isn’t possible, find other ways to express yourself like journaling, making art or even seeing a therapist.

Take a little hiatus from social media

You’ll be your best #zen self after

As we all know, people tend to show only the positives on social media, like that holiday they’re on or that party they went to. Sarah says that constantly seeing everyone’s highlight reel on social media while you’re going through a hard time can be frustrating. Katyana adds, “I see no drawbacks with taking some time away from social media to engage in the real world, because all it’ll do is help remind us that the flawlessness we feel so compelled to live by is more of an exception, rather than the rule.”