What Is Toxic Positivity? How to Avoid Catering to a Harmful Habit

Positive vibes...only? No thanks!

There’s an elephant in the room that’s been around for a while but it seems like it’s only addressed once every blue moon. This “elephant in the room” lives in our daily lives (in-person) and on social media and it’s known as toxic positivity.

Toxic positivity is excessively overgeneralizing happiness and optimism across the board. It's easy for us to get looped in toxic positivity when it's being distributed to us by others.

The problem with this toxic positivity is that it can harm the perception of YOU and your brand because it can discredit your authenticity, and we all know how important it is for you to live your authentic life online and offline.

Do you know what's WORSE than it hindering the perception of your authenticity online?

Toxic positivity hurts the people around you - friends & family - and even you.


How do I recognize when someone is trying to push their toxic positivity on me?

Toxic positivity in-person is commonly in response to moments where you’re venting and vulnerable having just experienced something that made you feel anything but positive. Here’s an example: Someone close to you recently passed away and you’re heartbroken. You confide in a friend and their response is “everything happens for a reason”. 

While they might mean well, this phrase does nothing to provide comfort or reassurance. In fact, it’s a few layers away from being considered gaslighting. 

In an ideal scenario, your friend would say something along the lines of, “I’m so sorry. I can only imagine how you’re feeling. Is there anything I can do?” Posing that question opens up an opportunity to offer help the way you need it. 

Toxic positivity online is a different story. The digital world has opened up doors for many, and with that, toxic positivity can’t help but walk in as well. We see it in online communities, we see it on some influencer profiles we come across, etc. The whole “good vibes only” or “positive vibes only” gets problematic when “only” is definite and blocks out and invalidates negative experiences others may be having. 

In an ideal scenario online, there’s a balance. Yes, you can be positive. Yes, you can be vulnerable. We are, after all, human! When people or groups present themselves as positive only, we may not be getting the whole picture and in-turn, we examine our own lives too harshly. This is why authenticity is so important these days!

Vision Boards tie into the Law of Attraction but what does that mean for positive thinking and toxic positivity?

How do we separate ‘toxic positivity’ from the Law of Attraction?

We were asked this question when discussing toxic positivity online and it’s a great question! You see, the Law of Attraction is “the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person's life”. 

Are you allowed to manifest positivity with positive thoughts? Absolutely! Don’t worry about that. That’s within your control. 

Toxic positivity primarily comes into play in terms of how we respond and interact with others. The positivity used for your/our own benefit in the Law of Attraction is at our own discretion whereas telling someone to not worry and be happy invalidates their feelings and experiences and falls under toxic positivity. There will be some overlaps but the discussion of toxic positivity is all about not doing harm to others.

Here are some examples of toxic positivity with credit to ThePsychologyGroup.com for curating these comparisons:

☣️ “Don’t think about it, stay positive!”
✅ “Describe what you’re feeling, I’m listening.”
☣️ “Don’t worry, be happy!”
✅ “I see that you’re really stressed, anything I can do?”
☣️ “Positive vibes only!”
✅ “I’m here for you both good and bad.”
☣️ “Everything happens for a reason.”
✅ “Sometimes we can draw the short straw in life. How can I support you during this hard time?”

We encourage you to join the discussion about toxic positivity on Instagram at THIS POST.

If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to us! We’re here to help. For more tips, make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter at shoplovetagency.com and check out our other pro-tips and planner walkthroughs at the blog section of our site! Questions or comments? Drop a line below!

2 comments

  • Ugh, amen! This fake positiveness at all times being pushed down my throat is tiring. Humans do go through goods and bads, ups and downs. It is fine to acknowledge that. It is also fine to let it out and take time to push through it without blocking it with constant “it will be all sunshine in no time!”

    Jackie
  • All positivity discounts the fact that this life is challenging and it can be an uphill battle. It’s okay to be positive in knowing the challenge will eventually be defeated but stay in the reality that the challenge is real and must be dealt with.

    Tonia Lovejoy

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