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Toxic optimism and its manifestations

Toxic optimism and its manifestations Toxic optimism does not improve emotional state (photo: Freepik)

Certainly, every person in a difficult situation has heard the phrase everything will be fine. It seems like it should be supportive, but sometimes it comes with comparisons to other people's problems or even reproaches for inaction.

The Instagram page COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY tells about what toxic optimism is and why it is harmful to communication.

What is toxic optimism

Despite the widespread belief that a positive outlook helps solve difficulties and overcome obstacles, urging someone to adopt such a perspective during times of distress is not supportive; quite the opposite.

Toxic optimism, which has little in common with optimism, is the imposition of positivity as a response to any emotions, situations, or problems. Moreover, we can exhibit it not only towards others but also towards ourselves.

How toxic positivity manifests

  • Invalidating feelings: "It's not that bad, look at someone else..."
  • Prohibiting pain, sadness, or weakness: "Crying won't help, just smile!"
  • Inducing guilt: "I'm whining like a little child, and it can be even worse."
  • Refusing to improve the situation due to fear of making it worse: "It's not bad as it is!"
  • Substituting real circumstances with illusions: "Think positive, and everything will be fine!"

Thus, toxic positivity ignores a person's emotions and problems, which sometimes cannot be solved quickly, devaluing the feelings and the path a person has to go through.

Moreover, toxic positivity can indicate certain harmful, primarily for the advisor, views. Perhaps in some cases, such words can indeed motivate a specific person to take useful actions, but usually, it is just the transfer of toxic beliefs.

Initially, the advisor does not allow themselves to experience certain emotions, demands to be unwavering and persistent in solving any issues, sometimes turning a blind eye to obstacles and even ignoring health problems - and then, through toxic positivity, obliges another person to share these views.

How toxic positivity differs from healthy positivity

Healthy optimism acknowledges that not everything is life-affirming. It is empathetic and considers the real circumstances, conditions, context, and the individual's state.

Горю сльозами не допоможеш. Що таке токсичний оптимізм і як він проявляється

It is important to provide the support that a person needs (photo: Freepik)

The principle of healthy optimistic perception is primarily to listen to and empathize with negative emotions and experiences. Optimism should not persuade that everything will necessarily be fine; it should adapt to reality. In other words, we cannot predict a perfect future, but our actions can effectively improve the situation.

It's important to remember that it's normal to have negative emotions, just as it is to have positive ones - and accepting them is important for mental health. Also, remember that people's experiences, as well as circumstances, can vary.

What doesn't sadden one person may upset another due to differences in temperament, abilities, or condition. It's not worth comparing problems; it's better to listen to the person and ask what support and help they need.

By the way, earlier we talked about how the inner critic harms self-esteem.

Also, read about how to get rid of anxiety.