Trying to force ourselves into happiness makes us disconnect from our real self.
Have you ever been told to cheer up when you just needed to be listened to?
This is called toxic positivity. It is basically an attempt to force you into happiness. It never works and can just cause frustration and resentment.
As a counter to toxic positivity, emotional validation can provide the empathy needed to a saddened person.
To put it simply, emotions are always valid. It is simply part of being human.
Instead of saying: “You should not feel miserable. Focus on the future.” We could instead say: “It’s good to let it out. I am here for you. What can I do to help?” and offer a hug.
Here are some typical red flags displaying toxic positivity:
- Cheer up
- Just be happy
- Get over it
- Crying won’t help
So why do we use toxic positivity?
It is because we are never encouraged to embrace and fully live our sadness.
We thus subconsciously shy away from our sadness and others’. We become not comfortable with a sad person around. Toxic positivity is thus selfish and invalidates others’ feelings .
It is not only interpersonal but also within yourself. Telling yourself to cheer up when you simply need to live your emotions is denying your emotions. Depression is hard but pretending you are not depressed is even harder.
You can pretend to be self-loving. But self love without awareness is useless.
You could get through by denying your emotions in the short term, but you will simply build tension until explosion in the long term. You rather need to blow off steam regularly.
A culture that promotes toxic positivity will lead to emotional invalidation. It then becomes harder to accept our emotions, but more importantly to understand our emotions.
Emotional validation is rather emancipating by building resilience. The resilience to face difficult situations which will always be part of life.
Not understanding our emotions means disconnecting from who we really are, and nobody wants that.