The Danger of Toxic Positivity During a Pandemic

The Danger of Toxic Positivity During a Pandemic
Woman doing thumbs up gesture wearing a protective mask. Young woman in medical sterile protective mask on her face, walking in a European city, showing thumbs up

( – Staying positive is important. Hope is important. When our need to see the bright side clouds our ability to deal with the situation, however, a positive attitude may become toxic.

We’re each handling the pandemic in our own way. We all need to cope, and uncertain times can call for unusual measures — but refusing to admit this whole situation just plain sucks might not be the most effective direction to take either. Here’s why.

Here’s the Danger of Toxic Positivity During a Pandemic.

When Does Positivity Turn Toxic?

It’s vital to stay positive during times like these. With the economy tanking and half the country scrambling to make ends meet, who can afford the luxury of giving in to despair? We need that light at the end of the tunnel, distant as it may be, beckoning us to keep pushing forward. We need to know this current struggle won’t last forever.

Even though being optimistic can be helpful at times, we also need to face the fact that our world has changed. A pandemic is a big deal. Life for many of us has literally been put on hold for weeks, even months, at a time. People have died, and no matter what condition they may have been in before they fell ill, there is no “bright side” to unexpectedly losing a loved one. Without balance, we put ourselves at risk for crisis fatigue, and then we’re no good for anyone.

Rejecting toxic positivity can help us remain active in finding solutions. When we look back on all we’ve learned so far in this tragic new history book entry in the making, we must also look at previous pandemics for direction. What more could we have learned from them? What worked in the past, and what might we change moving forward to improve our outcome in the future?

The Importance of Validating Our Grief

Toxic positivity attempts to gloss over the darkness, and people who subscribe to it mean well, but we might as well be trying to patch a dam with duct tape. We can layer it and dress it up as nicely as we’d like, but that won’t keep it from bursting open and flooding the entire town below in the end. We must be willing to face the problems if we want to find better solutions.

Self explains that we also invalidate others’ experiences when we downplay the repercussions. We may want to offer platitudes such as “we’re all going to be okay” or “we’ll get through this if we stick together,” — but the fact of the matter is some of us might not be okay. Some of us might die or lose loved ones as a result of this virus, and that’s far from okay.

Finding Healthy Ways to Cope

With a pit of despair on one side and toxic positivity on the other, finding a balanced middle ground might not always be easy. Establishing healthy coping mechanisms is essential to keeping our heads on straight right now, and focusing on self-compassion is a good start. Stay optimistic, but also be realistic. Engage in regular self-care. It’s okay to worry a little as long as new possible solutions find their way onto the table. Turn to family, friends and/or mental health specialists for support.

It’s natural for some of us to react with overly positive attitudes in an attempt to balance the bombardment of negatives we’ve experienced lately. Positivity is good and necessary, but it, too, has its limits. Keep it from becoming toxic, keep moving forward and keep the self-compassion coming. None of us can say what tomorrow will look like, but we can do our best to find balance and productivity while we wait for the dawn.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension

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