5 Examples of Toxic Positivity in Grief

5 Examples of Toxic Positivity in Grief

Toxic positivity happens when someone holds the belief that having negative thoughts or emotions at any time and on anything should always be avoided.

The belief worships a forced positivity even in grief.

Far back as Aristotle, it had been observed that emotions can affect the body and mind.

Negative emotions don't make us feel great, but the journey toward expelling those emotions or balancing ourselves should always follow a healthy route.

Toxic positivity happens in different ways.

There are examples of when toxic positivity in grief happens.

One is when someone dismisses their feelings because they feel they should always be cheerful at all times.

Another example is when someone makes comparisons of their grief with that of others to convince themselves they have nothing to be sad about.

When someone feigns gratitude over a tragedy that also qualifies as toxic positivity because they are not being true to their feelings.

The good news is that toxic positivity can be overcome by therapy for grief.

To find out more examples of toxic positivity in grief, keep reading.

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Dismissing Difficult Emotions 

Bottling up and ignoring our negative emotions is never healthy.

So significant are the possible ways emotions can affect us that biochemistry can show that our emotions are linked to our body's chemical balance, as well as our digestive and immune systems.

A goal when dealing with grief should always be to find healthy ways to express it.

Dismissing our grief in the name of a belief in a forever sunshine and rainbow approach is an example of toxic positivity in grief.

Grief dismissed due to toxic positivity does not magically go away.

It stays in our minds and bodies causing psychological and physical consequences.

Eventually, the grief starts to manifest in our daily life.

One can observe the effects of a messed up psychological state on the body by having a chat with massage therapists who can point out how clients come with tense muscles and burdened joints caused by pent-up emotions.

Subconsciously people in grief may start to find ways to hold up their toxic positivity so it does not fall and shatter.

Taking a little too much alcohol, popping more pills than usual, anxiety, easy irritability, etc are examples of side effects that can show up from dismissing grief due to toxic positivity.

Believing Everything Has a Reason 

This example of positive positivity is the mindset that tragedies happen happened for good reasons and therefore there is no use crying or grieving over it.

All one has to do in such cases is accept the tragedy with a big smile and happiness as something that was meant to be for the good of the world.

The truth is that almost everyone who says this uses it as a shield to block off the grief that they are in.

Some feel it is protection against complete emotional breakdown.

Sadly the world is a chaotic place filled with chaotic conditions.

The problem with using this shield of toxic positivity is that it is not healthy at all.

Sometimes tragedy befalls due to someone's recklessness or oversight, unforeseeable situations, or even due to a series of unfortunate events.

Proper healing can only commence after the acknowledgment that a tragedy is a tragedy first before anything and we should grieve over it rather than try to permutate it away by using toxic positivity in grief.

Comparison 

People will always compare themselves with others.

Height, weight, wealth, intellect, popularity, and even kids. if there is anything we have, we tend to make comparisons.

This need to compare stretches to abstract concepts like grief.

Comparison in its way helps us understand the pace of the world around us and keep us in line with it.

Comparison is one of the many pillars which hold up toxic positivity for people in grief.

The idea behind comparisons of grief is to feel better and happy by the fact that one's grief and pain are not 'worse off than that of some other person(s).

This kind of thinking is insensitive at face level and harmful overall to a person in grief.

Staying positive is not a bad thing. One can stay positive and still deal with grief healthily.

Staying positive because one's grief is not as bad as another's is a different discussion.

Comparing grief is an avoidance tactic used to ignore one's feelings.

It is an example of toxic positivity in grief which does not do many favors to a person in grief.

Feigning Gratitude 

Gratitude involves an appreciation and gladness for the life circumstances or situation one has experienced or finds themselves in.

Things do not have to be perfect for one to be grateful.

This is where the disconnect in toxic positivity comes along because genuine gratitude does not compel us to dismiss negative experiences that have happened to us and shout on mountaintops about how we are grateful they did.

Instead, genuine gratitude asks that we digest everything that has happened to us, and while we are not pleased it is not perfect, we are still grateful in the present moment.

Perfection is a myth, but toxic positivity asks that we pretend that all experiences should be met with happy gratitude.

This example of toxic positivity in grief is painted well by the popular meme where a dog stays inside a burning building and tells himself "this is fine ", as the flames roar around him.

Genuine gratitude acknowledges the inseparable challenges that come with life and still finds a place to nest.

It is holistic in its appreciation and does not deal with the denial of toxic positivity commands.

Believing Grief is Unnatural 

Toxic positivity centers around making us believe that grief is an abominable feeling that should be immediately annihilated, dumped, and buried away in a dark out-of-reach inhabitable desert.

This example of toxic positivity in grief seeks the make people brainwash themselves into an ideology that life is a fun roller coaster ride filled with rainbows and sunshine.

This goes against human nature.

Living is exciting and fun, but it has its ups and downs.

Toxic positivity does not allow for any type of reflection within.

Healthily going through grief is something that helps us grow in understanding the human condition.

To avoid it when it comes knocking is to avoid growth and invite internal turmoil.

Conclusion

Positivity can help us find balance in trying times, but when it crosses a threshold of normalcy and becomes toxic positivity it becomes a denial and rejection of reality.

The human experience is a bag filled with different cookies but it is important to use healthy habits that will allow us to face and not turn away from our grief.

Some examples of toxic positivity are dismissing difficult emotions, an everything-happens-for-a-reason mentality, comparisons of grief, feigning gratitude over a tragedy and thinking grief is unnatural. 

Resources 

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July 22nd, 2024

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