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Molly Longest / Her Campus

Toxic Positivity is an Obsession

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

Our mind works in mysterious ways and so do all of our emotions. If you stop feeling even one bit of emotion, you will lose your mind. Humans are wired to feel different emotions depending on the situation, but what if they get mixed up?

Imagine this. You just had the worst day of your life. You talk to a friend or family member about it and they reply saying, “things could’ve been worse”, “ it’s your choice to be sad” or “everything happens for a reason.” How will this make you feel? This is toxic positivity.

When you share an experience with someone, you do it with the intention of getting some sense of consolation or just reassurance in the form of “I am here for you no matter what.” When met with toxic positivity, it feels like you and your problems have been invalidated. In my opinion, this can be harmful, however, it is even more harmful when we do it to ourselves

We don’t realize when we use toxic positivity as an escape from reality. We often tell ourselves to stay positive and look on the bright side of things just to make the hurt less painful. We tend to dismiss our problems rather than facing them head on. We make up scenarios in our head about how it could’ve been worse rather than channeling what actually happened. We start to feel guilty about feeling pain, being sad or being depressed. It is not feasible to bottle up our emotions and force ourselves to stay happy even in the most stressful of situations. Emotions were created so that we could feel and grow with them, not dismiss them when times get tough. 

This kind of attitude not only harms us but the people around us. We start to influence others with our toxic positivity. We try to make them feel like their problems are nothing compared to others’, and having this kind of relationship with people is not healthy.

We tend to forget that there is a very fine line between positivity and toxic positivity. People aren’t lying when they say “too much of anything is dangerous.”

Positivity should be subtle. Different situations call for different emotions and responses. Try using these alternative responses to avoid toxic positivity the next time somebody shares their trauma or negative experiences with you.

1.      Everything happens for a reason: 

“Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and it is okay to feel bad about it.”

2.      Look on the bright side: 

“Give yourself some space. I am here for you.”

3.      Happiness is a choice: 

“It is okay to feel sad right now, I know you are going through a lot.”

4.      It could’ve been worse: 

“I know things are hard for you right now. Is there anything I can help with?”

5.      Don’t stress too much: 

“I am here for you if you feel like talking about it.”

6.      You are overreacting, it’s not a big deal: 

“I can see how difficult it has been.”

7.      You are being too negative: 

“No matter what happens, I am here for you.”

Giving this validation to somebody who is searching for it can make a huge difference in their lives, both mentally and emotionally. Emotions are precious, handle them with care.

Yanika Saluja

Toronto MU '25

Yanika is a Journalism student at Ryerson University. Her interests include writing, reading, binge watching series and drinking lots and lots of coffee. She feels that she has a unique point of view towards the world and she likes sharing it through her writings. She loves to travel and talking to new people. She can play a little guitar too!