Much has been written and shared lately about toxic positivity. Psychology Today defines it as keeping positive and keeping positive only…focusing on positive things and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions.
I get the pushback on that. I really do.
We need to fully feel our feelings. We need to cry when we are sad. We need to hurt when we have been injured. We need to be angry when we have been wronged.
It is not healthy to ignore any of those emotions. No one should tell us to smile through our pain or to ignore our hurt.
That would be toxic.
But sitting in those feelings for too long without finding a way through it is toxic as well. Pushing aside the laughter and the joy because it feels disingenuous when we are also suffering is not helping us recover. Avoiding our friends, reading too much social media, and focusing solely on the negative is not the road to healing.
We are all wrestling with months and months of isolation and fear and pressure and anger. There is nothing wrong with feeling negativity.
And there is nothing wrong with focusing on positivity.
I am grateful to the people in my life who have reached out in the last few weeks to talk about this. I knew that re-entering this space would provoke conversation. No one has been hostile or combative. They have simply asked how I reconcile my focus on positivity with all of the posts about toxic positivity.
It is not always easy.
But there is research around the healing effects of focusing on happiness and gratitude. I have experienced it firsthand. And I have experienced anxiety and depression that no amount of positive thought could undo.
We owe it to ourselves and to the people we love to seek help when we need it. It takes enormous strength to reach out for help. “Happiness is a choice” is not always true for everyone at every moment. There is nothing wrong with that.
And there is nothing wrong with spending our energy focused on being positive. We don’t need to apologize for wanting to be happy and for wanting the people in our lives to be happy.
I wish all of this was easier. It is anything but easy. But my plan is to continue to get help when I need it and to continue to focus on being positive and happy.