Mental Health

Why positive word can be “ Toxic” ? | by Ren | Oct, 2021

When we see a friend feeling sad or starting to give up, as a good friend of course we will encourage them with positive words. As simple as “Cheer up!” or “You’re not alone, Everything happens for a reason , Failure is not the option”. There are times when these words of encouragement are powerful enough to reduce their bad thoughts and feelings. But don’t get me wrong, for others, they think this actually makes them feel even more discouraged, and even triggers depression.
This word of encouragement doesn’t mean we don’t need to be encouraged. Of course we are happy that there are friends who care and pay attention to our problems. Sometimes we don’t realize that someone doesn’t need to be encouraged and doesn’t need positive words, but rather empathy from ourselves. Such a situation is called Toxic Positivity. Why positive words can be ‘toxic’?

Words of encouragement can make the mental more depressed.
Toxic positivity is when someone continuously encourages us who are having problems to see the good side of life, without considering our experiences or without giving us the opportunity to express their feelings.
Susan David, a psychology instructor at Harvard University says: Feeling, accepting and not denying negative emotions is actually a natural thing.” Repressed emotions can be the cause of psychological disorders, which can be a major source of anxiety and depression.

Similiar to Susan, Dr. Natalie Christine Dattilo, clinical psychologist and mental-health speaker and educator also explained that, “While cultivating a positive mindset is a powerful coping mechanism, ‘toxic positivity’ stems from the idea that the best–or only–way to cope with a bad situation is to put a positive spin on it and not dwell on the negative. It results from our tendency to undervalue negative emotional experiences and overvalue positive ones. The root of toxic positivity is emotional avoidance, a coping strategy used to push away or minimize any internal distress. It stems from having what psychologists call a ‘low distress tolerance’ which is an inability to sit with discomfort.”

Defitinely , It teaches us to ignore those emotions and can lead to pent-up anger, depression, anxiety, and a slew of other mental health issues as well as physical issues as a result of the stress and pressure and It can affect our ability to cope effectively because when our authentic emotions are denied, minimized, or invalidated, emotional suppression and significant self-doubt can result. Also , It can create pressure to appear ‘ok’ and grateful ‘no matter what,’ which can be insensitive, invalidating, and in some cases, inappropriate. This can compromise our ability to confront a problem and deal with it effectively.”

When we pretend to be positive, we tend to blame ourselves.

When someone is depressed or grieving and then forces themselves to stay positive and try to pretend they are happy, what is likely to happen is that someone is blaming themselves for not living up to their expectations. Blaming yourself can lead to disappointment due to unfulfilled expectations. In the end, it worsens the negative feelings in a person.
When they keep saying “I’m a nice person” or focus on denying bad things about themselves, they are indirectly manipulating their own feelings which leads to obsession.

What they need is not Positivity but Empathy.
Not everyone needs to be encouraged when they talk about negative feelings or bad experiences. What that person really needs is empathy. Opportunity to be heard and understood.

The most important thing when someone is dealing with a friend who is afflicted with problems is not responding with advice, let alone positive encouragement which seems to be a formality. It’s more important to listen to people who are complaining without being judgmental, or give them a chance to express each emotion until it subsides.
For example, ask what makes them want to give up or what makes them so sad or depressed. When you dealing with their emotions , you should try to listen to the friend’s story first before rushing to give him advice. After your friend has poured out their emotions, only then can you give an opinion on cause and effect if your friend wants to do something about their emotional outburst.

Because , we can’t choose which emotions we will feel. If we try to deny an emotion, it’s actually burdening our minds to try to forget it. The more denied or forgotten, the more our minds will remember and even stress. When you or your friend feel sad, angry or upset, just say it, enjoy the feeling. Mentally we will get used to even the worst situations.

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