How toxic positivity can ruin your quest for change and sabotage your happiness

World Happiness Day 2021

The UN launched their World Happiness Day in 2013 with the aim of increasing happiness and well-being by reducing poverty and inequality. This year it was marked by lots of smiling Instagram posts, joyful captions and sharing of good news. All of which is brilliant and needed in a world that is so difficult and cruel. But alongside the joy, there was a lot of toxic positivity. You know the posts I mean; stunning sunsets with 'good vibes only' statements, 'cheer up love, it might never happen' comments, 'everything happens for a reason' messages when suffering a devastating life event.

But people are only trying to be make you feel better right?

Yes, most of the time they are. They don't like to see you in pain, hurting or sad. No-one likes to see a sad face after all. But toxic positivity can be damaging because it avoids dealing with difficult emotions. It's can be a way to deflect from having to have tough conversations about tragic or cruel things. It can be a head-in-the-sand approach to conflict or adversity.

Making change can be a fertile breeding ground for toxic positivity and unrealistic optimism.

When you move into a period of change, it is normally because you aren't happy with the way things are. Alongside that, you may feel guilty for not being grateful enough for what you already have. You try to be positive and just get on with it. You don't want to burden anyone else with how you are feeling because 'it could be worse'. So the thing you really want to do gets pushed down and pushed away, because you don't feel deserving of it. It's a luxury to want to be doing something different. Deep down you feel like you aren't worthy of it. So you whack on a positive façade and just keep on going with what is, not allowing yourself to dream about what could be. This form of toxic positivity comes from your own pesky inner critic; she (or he, mine is called Barbara) is trying to protect you from putting yourself out there and playing bigger.

And change is hard

It's not all sunshine and rainbows. It's sunshine and showers. Some days making a big change in your life feels incredible and like you can take on the world. Other times, it feels too hard, too scary and too unknown. And in those times, the last thing you want is for someone to diminish that feeling and tell you it'll all be ok; even if they are only trying to protect you by doing so. You need someone to sit with you with those difficult feelings. You need someone who will say 'that sounds so hard, I'm sorry you are having to deal with this'. It's ok to not know what to say to someone who is having a hard time. It's enough to tell them you are there to listen to them.

Don't suffer in silence.

This moving talk covers on the importance of sharing feelings and talking about emotion (tw suicide)

And for the record? All vibes welcome here

For more on how I balance my quest for happiness see my blog for the Cotswold Women's Collective.