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Sweet Polly sunshine and the facade of toxic positivity

What is toxic positivity? It’s the belief that you should appear happy, even if you are struggling. So picture a person who is skipping through a lollipop land of shiny faces and perfect families with a basket of daisies singing show tunes all the time.

Like that’s for real?

Now there are benefits to being an optimist for sure. But toxic positivity takes positive thinking to an extreme. It minimizes and denies any trace of human emotions that aren’t strictly happy and dismisses difficult emotions. That’s BS.

We need to make room for those emotions, too. In fact, the way to happiness is to acknowledge and work through struggles instead of burying them in a deeply dug latrine.

I’m going to be brutally honest. When I express sadness and someone says that “happiness is a choice,” I want to punch them in the face for suggesting it’s my fault for not “choosing” to be happy.

It’s shaming
It causes guilt
It avoids authentic human emotion
Most importantly, it prevents growth. Because toxic positivity promotes avoiding painful emotions and denies us the ability to heal emotionally. I have learned to laugh again. And not because I forced myself but because I allowed myself to feel my way through all the pain so I could find it again.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

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