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Emojis Friends Funny Fun Happy Emotions
Molly Longest / Her Campus
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at DePauw chapter.

We have all been in difficult situations and have been told phrases like “look on the bright side” and “it’ll be fine, don’t worry.” These phrases are examples of toxic positivity, where people dismiss negative emotions with false reassurances. While they are usually well-intentioned, they often lead to bad results. Many of us internalize these phrases to the point where feeling negative emotions causes us to feel guilty and desperate to overcome them. We feel like we must suppress our emotions instead of properly processing these experiences. 

How do we identify toxic positivity? It has become a normalized method of coping with situations, to the point that it can be hard to recognize. 

Here are a few common signs of toxic positivity:

  • Dismissing negative emotions to move past the situation
  • Feeling guilty for experiencing those negative emotions
  • Disregarding your feelings with an “it is what it is”
  • Looking at perspective rather than validating emotions with an “it could be worse”
  • Concealing your authentic feelings with false reassurances

Some of you might be wondering if this means that being positive in negative situations is unhealthy. Toxic positivity is very different from having a positive mindset. Having a positive mindset is beneficial for a positive outlook on life. The difference between a positive mindset and toxic positivity is that the latter implies that optimism is the only way to get through negative experiences—invalidating negative emotions. Positivity can help improve your outlook for those circumstances, but it should not be used to brush off your feelings. 

Instead of using toxic positivity, we should attempt to empathize with other people’s emotions and validate their feelings. It’s not about forcing positivity on someone. But if they do decide to look on the bright side or recognize positive things about their situation, then do not force them to be in that negative space. Basically, just validate their emotions and show your support as they work through their situation. 

This article is not meant to criticize our behaviors, but to increase awareness of how to deal with negative situations. Toxic positivity happens a lot and we have all been exposed to it at some point. Now that you are aware of it, it will take time to shift your ways to cope with and help others cope with difficult circumstances. But, it is the first step to give others healthy support through their experiences.

Hey, I'm KP! I'm in the class of 2025 at DePauw pursuing my interests in business through the Management Fellows Program. I write for the Features section of DePauw's HerCampus.