I asked could positivity ever be a bad thing and most people told me no. However, it absolutely CAN! Below I will identify the signs to look for to identify toxic positivity.
1. Positivity that lacks realism
This is the one that I see most often. If your positivity lacks realism, it is toxic. I will give you some examples of this kind of toxic positivity below:
A. Being broke is a choice. You have to manage your money better.
As Wendi Thomas said, poverty wage workers cannot just budget their way out of poverty.
Let’s do some math. The national minimum wage is $7.25/hour. If you live in North Carolina, that is what minimum wage is. However the average cost of rent (for Raleigh, NC) is $1,213 per month according to Rent Cafe.
That means that after taxes, the average person working a minimum wage job will bring home approximately $535.63 per month. (I found this number using the Paycheck City Paycheck Calculator
So the average minimum wage worker in North Carolina makes $1,071.26 per month, while the average rent is $1,213. How can this person reasonably budget their way out of poverty?
This is just for Raleigh, North Carolina. There are some places that have worse fates.
Saving $2 from a cup off coffee will not help a situation where someone cannot afford a cup of coffee in the first place.
Toxic Positivity at its finest.
B. If you are depressed, just go out more and have some fun
Depression does not work this way. Depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Someone may want to go out and have fun, however their brain will not register it as fun. Not to mention, depression often comes with a lack of energy. How can someone have fun when they do not have the energy to do so? This definitely lacks realism and proper understanding of depression and the affects it has on the brain. Telling someone to “just have fun” is toxic positivity.
2. Positivity that lacks empathy
Empathy is being able to understand someone else’s plight and have compassion for that person. I have seen a few positive quotes that completely lack empathy and claim to be positive. This is definitely toxic positivity.
A. You will be okay.
Sometimes, a person that is in distress does not need to hear, “it will be okay.” Sometimes they just need to vent and need you to listen. Of course this could be a comforting statement. However, if this is said as an attempt to get someone to stop talking, it is wrong and lacks empathy, and it is a form of toxic positivity.
B. Just get over it / Cheer Up
When it comes to trauma, and hurtful situations in general, there is no time limit to grief. Telling someone to “cheer up” or “just get over it,” when something is bothering them, lacks empathy and diminishes the validity of their feelings. They have the right to be sad for however long they want to.
I will give a personal example. When I broke up with my last boyfriend, my mother tried to tell be that I will be okay. I told her to just let me be sad and cry it out. I needed to let it out. That is how I got over the situation. I did not need to be cheered up. I needed to cry and allow myself to grieve so I can move on healthily.
3. Positivity that is built on negativity
This is one I often see on social media and the toxic positivity is often followed by the phrase “We Different” or “I’m Different.” I will list some of the recent ones I have seen.
A. If I fall off I can't run to my mother. We different
Though this may be true, the fact that you are comparing yourself, and seemingly putting yourself on a pedestal, because you have to struggle on your own, is toxic. There is nothing wrong with being self-reliant, but there is everything wrong with making others who have support feel bad about it.
On another note, if you have your parents to help you and make life easier, you are blessed and have nothing to be embarrassed about.
B. I'm not like these other women. I am loyal to 1 man. I am different.
Firstly, we have men comparing us to other women often enough. We do not need to do it to ourselves. Second another woman’s sexcapades (sex escapades) are none of your business. Congratulations on being monogamous. Some people are in happy multi-partner relationship are more “loyal (based on honesty and commitment)” than people in monogamous relationships.
Question of the Week
Did you learn about a miscarriage in sex ed?
Answer of the Week
Answer by Life As Women Know, [Blogger] | Instagram |
Yes, if it is fake or inappropriate for the situation
Straight forward and to the point
Positivity can be a bad thing if it lacks realism or empathy, and if it is built on negativity. Some things are negative with the mask of positivity. If you behave like this, I suggest you check your words, and stop utilizing toxic positivity.
About the Author
Mish (Pronounced Meesh) Truth has always been a natural social justice advocate. She now holds BA in Psychology and will hold an MSW by May 2021. She is currently a goal coach, a tutor, and a writer.
She is is passionate about social justice issues and overall mental wellness. This includes knowledge on how to develop healthy relationships, and awareness mental and medical illnesses, and social justice issues.
Growing up in an urban, low income, community, she learned a lot before her time. She credits her success to her self awareness and desire for personal growth.
Her goal is to change the world by affecting at least one person, educating them, inspiring them, and then empowering them to go out and affect more change.
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