Toxic Positivity and Mental Health

Everything happens for a reason.

Be positive; positivity is everything.

Brush it off and think positively.

Positive thinking leads to positive things in life.

Do you ever get tired of listening to such statements? Do you get angry when you to be positive in distressful situation say? Positivity is a glorified to an extreme where people are forced to be positive in situations where they simply want to cry or be upset with things that are causing the distress or pain. The above positive statements are said to motivate and encourage when someone is feeling low but rushing and shoving it on to the person it is known as toxic positivity. The definition of toxic positivity is the pressure to display only the positive emotions by suppressing the negative emotions, reactions or experiences. It invalidates the human experiences of which can worsen and lead to unhealthy way of coping.

In an attempt to promote positivity, many people in schools, colleges, the workplace, or even at home with no complaining zone not to show the pain, fear, or hurt and show only the positive vibes can worsen the state of mental and emotional wellness in an individual because it involves suppression.

Toxic Positivity and Mental Health

Mental health approaches focus on treating distorted thinking, overwhelming emotions, and maladaptive behaviors. Toxic positivity is dismissive in nature, and it highlights the question of one’s own sense of reality. It always conveys the message that it is not okay to not be okay and that something is wrong if you are anxious, worried, pessimistic, complaining, or sad. These can be a trigger factor that can enhance the stigma associated with mental health issues and be severe as an obstacle for people to come out and reach out for help. It makes the person create a facade of happiness and satisfaction, but the reality is engulfed in emotions that are to be experienced.

Talking about the adversities is not to trigger the overwhelming emotions and then pressure the person to be positive about the painful experiences. In a counseling setting, information is gathered to understand the causal factor and validate the uncomfortable and painful emotions.

The impact of Toxic positivity on mental health

Reduces well-being

Positivity is beneficial and it is part of many interventions however, enforcing positivity on people can make them feel even guiltier, anxious, worried, inadequate, or overwhelmed which can lead to serious mental health issues. Toxic positivity is an unrealistic expectation place on people who are in pain and hurting to have a positive outlook on circumstances. The two extremes pessimistic and extremes in positive thinking can lead to mental health issues it is important to strike a balance on these extremes to have a mental wellness.

Lower self-efficacy

When individual ignore the feelings and tell one it indicates inadequacy and de-motivate them from gaining of why they are experiencing such emotions and what to do about it. It stagnate the person with the facade they have created because of toxic positivity.


Constantly enforcing the optimism on people who are facing adversities their response will be to go silent and hesitate to seek support and help. Using positive statements as dismissive comments can make them isolate themselves and stop reaching out for help. This can cause severe distress leading to serious mental health issues.

Shame & Guilt

When people express the painful or difficult emotions it is unaccepted or dismissed which can make the individual feel ashamed or guilty. The unaccepted or dismissal can make the person think that they are weak and non-resilient.

Toxic, well-meaning statement What to say instead
Someone out there is having it worse than you. I can understand why you’re upset about that.
You’ll never get anywhere talking like that. You sound like this is really bothering you.
We never get more than we can handle. When you’re ready, I’m here to help.
There’s no reason you can’t do that. Let me know if I can support you with this.
I don’t see the problem. I have gone through worse than this. “That sounds like a lot to deal with.”
This should be easy for you. It’s okay to have an off day or ask for help.




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