Positive Psychology VS Toxic Positivity

How to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful positivity

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Engaging a positive perspective can be a route to increased self-esteem, improved relationships and a greater outlook on life. However, when done to a toxic level it can lead to an unsustainable and unhealthy result.

Where positive psychology can be transformative, toxic positivity can be harmful.

Positive Psychology

So what is positive psychology? In a nutshell, it is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. It focuses on broadening awareness, building strengths, increasing compassion and overall supporting our development and wellbeing.

Toxic Positivity

Toxic positivity is an artificial level of positive feelings 100% of the time. It tells people to stop feeling negative and avoids feelings of sadness or depression, as well as people expressing those emotions.

A concerning development is where toxic positivity meets the law of attraction. Combined they invalidate emotions and use positivity as a device to attract desires and make people afraid to feel anything other than happy all the time. This is a dangerous road that can easily lead to burnout, deteriorated relationships and lower perceived self-worth.

Feelings of sadness, fear and anxiety aren’t an enemy to be avoided, how you feel is perfectly valid, allow yourself to respond to those feelings in a healthy way that helps you move forward, even if that means taking a break.

How to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful positivity
How to reap the benefits of Positive Psychology
  • Express Gratitude — reminding yourself of what you are thankful for in your life can create a more optimistic perspective, bring you joy and ease feelings of anxiety.
  • Appreciate Your Strengths — allowing yourself to admire your strengths can increase your perceived self-worth and widen how you view the parameters of your ability.
  • Recognise Your Achievements — owning and celebrating your accomplishments can help build confidence in your potential and capability.
  • Be authentic to your feelings — Don’t force yourself to feel happy all the time, positive psychology is not about focusing on the positive to ignore negative feelings, it’s about appreciating the good with the bad for an improved quality of life.
  • Closed Door/Open Door — An exercise that reframes events in your life by recognising the positive real results gained instead of focussing on what could have been.
  • Relish The Good — Taking your gratitude one step further by simply enjoying it and allowing yourself to experience the joy in appreciating it.

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