‘Toxic positivity’: it’s on the rise – and it’s dangerous

Written by Dr Lynda Shaw Wednesday 12 May 2021
Managers who bang on about achievements and avoid ‘negative’ emotions can end up invalidating their people’s experiences
Yellow post-it note with smiley face, surrounded by blue post-its with sad facese

You may already be aware of toxic positivity. It can come in the form of advice from someone else who possibly unwittingly invalidates your feelings when you’re feeling low, or stops you feeling justified about your response to a situation with “things could be much worse” or makes light of your experience. Toxic positivity also occurs when we feel we have to be positive all of the time and avoid feelings that are difficult to deal with, such as anger or hurt. Often our self-talk may be around guilt such as “I’ve no right to feel fed up, look at how many people are suffering in the world”; or as shame – “I should be doing so much better”; or as low self-worth – “feeling anxious is stupid.” We swallow these feelings and try to project ourselves as doing better emotionally than we are.

Both forms can have harmful long-term consequences because toxic positivity inhibits people from feeling perfectly normal emotions which, if left unchecked, can lead to longer-lasting deeper issues such as anxiety, diminished self-esteem and burnout.

Want to learn more about the danger associated with the rise of 'Toxic positivity'?


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