Social Media & Toxic Positivity
Social media is becoming a hotbed for toxic positivity. Too often, people overly encourage positive behaviors & emotions, while completely condemning anything & dehumanizing anyone who displays even the smallest speck of negativity. While I have definitely been guilty of toxic positivity in the past, with everything that I’ve learned this past year, it’s time to spread the word about the harm it causes & put an end to it.
I have a mug in the cupboard of my kitchen that reads “Good Vibes Only”. This used to be a mantra that I lived by to help me “fake it until I make it.” As humans, we experience a plethora of emotions, both good & bad. Restricting yourself or others to good vibes only is actually detrimental to our growth.
Have you seen the Disney Pixar movie, Inside Out? While I highly recommend you stop reading to go watch it now, I’ll try not to ruin it for any of you who haven’t seen it yet. lol In the movie, each character has five emotions that exist inside their head: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, & Anger. It is through being able to move freely through all five emotions that characters are able to learn & grow as individuals, from staying stuck in a child-like mindset to having a more complex personality as a teenager, young adult, so on & so forth.
You need to be able to accept & feel all of your emotions in order to develop as a human. It’s not healthy to suppress or ignore when you feel sad, disgusted, afraid, or angry. As children, we were much better at showing how we felt & moving through our emotions from moment to moment. But as we’ve grown, we’ve been taught that it’s more important to suppress how you feel inside, suck it up, & always put on a good face for the world. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to not be okay. You are worthy & your feelings are valid.
I mentioned in a past blog post that I’ve always been a Jedi with my emotions. I used to never let my emotions get the best of me, but the truth of the matter is when I was feeling sad or upset, I would still lock myself in my room to cry & rage clean my space until I felt better. Even though I wouldn’t let anyone see me sweat, I still allowed myself to release my emotions in what I considered a safe environment (i.e. my bedroom) & in a productive manner (i.e. cleaning).
I’ll confess that I haven’t done as good of a job of allowing myself to feel my emotions over the past year. I held back my anger, disgust, fear, & sadness from mid-November through the end of December, causing me to get my first 8 white hairs! Yup, that’s right… I didn’t have any grey or white hairs on my head until I was 33. Once I finally let myself feel my emotions, it was like a weight was lifted & my perspective on everything in my life & who I am changed.
Too many people on social media only promote a curated, positive presence through a rose-colored lens. And even though I used to be one of them, I’m over & done with the “fake it until you make it” mindset. It’s time to put a stop to toxic positivity, especially if you’re using it as a way to avoid your emotions, prevent yourself from doing your own shadow work, or healing your past trauma. It’s time to accept that it’s completely normal to not be happy all the time. We’re all going to experience good & bad in our lifetime, so it’s only natural to accept the positive & negative emotions that come along with it.
It’s time to normalize feeling anxious or depressed. If someone’s having a bad day, it’s okay to keep scrolling when they need to vent rather than projecting toxic positivity onto them. If someone’s sad situation triggers you to chime in where your opinion wasn’t welcome, it may be a sign that you have your own anxious or depressing thoughts that you need to address. In order to improve the overall mental health of humanity, we need to allow people to express themselves & their truth, even if we don’t agree with it.
Toxic positivity, forcing your opinions & outlook on others, & silencing whomever you want to classify as the “enemy” isn’t going to bring the world back into alignment & harmony. Allow others to feel their emotions, then listen & try to understand their situation. We need to come together on common ground, without fear of being attacked. Only then can people finally feel empowered to express exactly who they are on social media as well as in real life. It’s through unconditional love & acceptance of who we are as individuals that humanity can truly come back together in peace.