Are you mistaking toxic positivity for gratitude?

It's 2021 and the "good vibes only" club is at its peak of popularity. The #grateful and #blessed hashtags continue to trend on Twitter due to the growing number of people committing themselves to the practice and positive mindset. While the concept of gratitude is a great outlook and approach to life, it can be unintentionally misused, leading to toxic positivity, which unfortunately is not the answer to everything.

Why is that? To put it simply, it isn't realistic. We are all human, we have many emotions, we are constantly battling old and new life experiences including past traumas that have shaped us. So the problem is, too often people confuse or don't appropriately use gratitude as it is intended, that's where toxic positivity comes in without even knowing it.

What is the difference between the two? 

GRATITUDE the quality of being thankful; readiness to show and feel appreciation for and to return kindness. 

TOXIC POSITIVITY maintaining a positive “good vibes only” mindset no matter how difficult the situation. 

As you can see, gratitude can easily turn into toxic positivity once you begin to suppress or ignore your emotions based on the idea you must always maintain a positive mindset. 

Try a different approach

If you want to develop a genuinely positive outlook and achieve gratitude, you oftentimes have to confront your deepest fears and feel all of your emotions (not just the positive ones), shame or anything else you are trying to run away from, otherwise toxic positivity may present itself. Finding the truth by taking a deep look inside will allow you to move towards acceptance. And acceptance is vital to the gratitude process and healthy positivity. Understanding why you feel a certain way about a situation instead of telling yourself to remain positive and happy is a much healthier, and realistic approach.

3 steps to avoiding toxic positivity 

  1. Don't ignore your true emotions
  2. Understand your emotions
  3. Accept your emotions

Once this is achieved, you can keep trekking down your good vibes only path!  

A healthy way to cultivate gratitude is to start by asking yourself this question: “is there anything in the way of me feeling grateful or happy? If so, what is that roadblock?” The next time you are struggling with something, treat yourself and your issues the same as you would a good friend, by using an open mind to help gather information and understanding of why you are feeling this way. This is where you use acceptance to make sense of these emotions and resolve any roadblocks. True positivity stems from genuine understanding and acceptance. 

“True positivity stems from acceptance”

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