Toxic positivity refers to the harmful and invalidating behaviour of enforcing constant positivity, without acknowledging or addressing a person’s genuine struggles and negative emotions. It can suppress authentic feelings, and therefore lead to guilt, shame and isolation.
Here are a few tips to avoid toxic positivity in your workplace, classroom or home.
- Create an attitude of ‘it’s okay not to be okay’. Accept that it isn’t realistic to be okay all the time.
- Encourage your children and students to manage their negative emotions, not deny them. Ask them:
‘Could your emotions be giving you important information that could help you to make a beneficial change in your life’?
- Encourage them to focus on listening and showing support for each other. Kindness rules.
- Share with them these examples of how they might communicate well.
|Toxic Statement||Non-toxic alternatives|
|Just stay positive||I’m listening.|
|Good vibes only!||I’m here no matter what.|
|It could be worse.||That must be really hard.|
|Things happen for a reason.||Sometimes bad things happen. How can I help?|
|Failure isn’t an option||Failure is sometimes part of life|
|Happiness is a choice||Your feelings are valid.|
Start noticing toxic statements and strive to let yourself and others feel and express their emotions – both the positive and the negative.