Toxic Positivity: When Good Vibes Become Bad

I like to think of myself as a positive person. I can be optimistic in the direst of circumstances. Like when my parents told me I wasn’t an accident, but a pleasant ‘surprise’, in front of 50 of my closest friends and family on my 18th birthday. 

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I’m not a big fan of the word pleasant– primarily when it’s used to describe the tale of how I came to be. However, I smiled politely and dealt with stares of pity and cousin Jerry shouting out, “I knew it!”. 

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I love positivity. I’m a big advocate of the P word and believe you can never have enough of it floating around. That was until I experienced ‘toxic positivity’. 

In today’s world, there is an overwhelming push to be consistently happy. Quotes on social media like, “good vibes only” and “think happy thoughts” permeate my feed. Although, while these quotes have the right intent, are we forcing positivity? 

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In other words, have we become so good at spreading positivity, that we’re masking our genuine emotions?

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The biggest issue with toxic positivity is that there’s no grey area. So while bikini-clad Instagram influencers are posting snaps in Bora Bora, with the caption ‘Just smile’, this makes me want to do the complete opposite. 

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However, I’m wired to have a ‘look at the bright side’ attitude instead of ‘I want to put a fork in my eye if I see another half-naked influencer tell me to smile.’

The idea of toxic positivity also suggests that our #FirstWorldProblems are just that. It was like when I recently choked on a twisty (YES I’M 24 AND I STILL EAT TWISTIES). My dad said, “Well, at least you didn’t choke to death.” Thanks dad, even though my life flashed before my eyes, and I kept envisaging international headlines like, ‘Girl dies from choking on novelty food’, that makes me feel a whoooole lot better. 

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So, when it comes to positivity, where do I stand? I’m a huge supporter of positivity, although you might be thinking the contrary now after the whole fork-in-eye situation. But, I’m also a firm believer in saying life sucks when it does. 

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Want more on toxic positivity? Watch Front and Centre’s Director, Grazina Fechner, discuss it on Channel 7’s, The Morning Show here: 

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