9 Signs of toxic positivity

This is a topic that often gets overlooked in the realm of personal development – toxic positivity. While positivity is important, there’s a thin line between genuine optimism and the kind that can be harmful. Let’s take a closer look at some examples of toxic positivity:

  1.  Someone’s feeling down, and we say, “Just be happy” or “Look on the bright side,” without acknowledging their feelings.
  2. Ignoring real struggles by telling ourselves, “Everything happens for a reason” or “It could be worse.”
  3. Comparing ourselves to others who seem to have it worse, making our own feelings seem invalid
  4. Pushing away emotions like sadness, anger, or frustration out of fear they’ll bring more negativity into our lives.
  5. Blaming ourselves or others for attracting negative experiences due to a perceived negative attitude.
  6. Offering phrases like “Time heals all wounds” to someone grieving, without giving them space to process their feelings.
  7. Pretending to feel great all the time, even when we’re actually feeling sad, in order to fit the mold of positivity.
  8. Avoiding discussions about problems or conflicts because we label them as “negative.”
  9. Promoting the idea that life should always be positive and challenge-free, setting us up for disappointment when reality doesn’t match.

This was me at the start of my personal development journey. I think many beginners go through this phase. I was scared to cry when Joana was in the hospital, fearing I might attract something worse. I felt disappointed in myself whenever I experienced emotions like sadness, anger, jealousy, lack of motivation, or laziness. I thought, “Did I put in all this effort for nothing?”

But here’s the good news: This phase of toxic positivity passes. Soon, you’ll realize that our whole range of emotions, even the negative ones, are normal and healthy. The best part is that the more deeply you dive into your personal development, the less toxic positivity will control your life. You’ll truly become positive most of the time, equipped to overcome negative emotions and embrace joy, hope, optimism, and satisfaction.

So, what happens if we ignore toxic positivity? We bury our true feelings and miss out on growth opportunities hidden within uncomfortable experiences. Every situation, like divorce, rejection, health issues, or loss, holds valuable lessons if we’re willing to learn from them.

Sadly, I’ve seen people on my journey who gave up on personal development. They ended up angry, frustrated, and jealous because they believed that “bad luck” was real. They felt that all these self-improvement practices didn’t work for them. One major reason? Toxic positivity.

But guess what? There’s so much more to uncover and understand. Sticking to surface-level knowledge won’t lead to true change in your life. To shift away from toxic positivity, focus on self-awareness and self-compassion.

Increasing self-awareness involves intentionally investing time to understand yourself better. Reflect on your goals, strengths, weaknesses, struggles, patterns, limiting beliefs, and unhelpful habits. I did this on my own, with my coach, and in groups.

As you navigate your daily life, remember that genuine personal growth involves both ups and downs. People around me, even my clients, are sometimes surprised when I admit to having a bad day or a negative attitude about something. They assume that since I transformed my life, I’m in a shiny mood 24/7. But the truth is, I’m a human, just like you.

Embrace all your feelings because they’re the key to your transformation.

Maya MJ