Understanding the Harmful Impact of Overly Positive Thinking and How to Cope 

Toxic positivity refers to the unrealistic and unhealthy belief that one should always look on the bright side of things and ignore or suppress negative emotions. This type of thinking is pervasive in our society, and can be seen in the catchphrases and memes that encourage us to “just be positive” or “think happy thoughts.” While the intention behind these messages may be well-meaning, toxic positivity can have a number of negative consequences for mental health and well-being. 


The origins of toxic positivity can be traced back to the “power of positive thinking” movement of the 20th century, which encouraged people to focus on their desires and ignore negative thoughts and emotions. This movement was popularized by self-help gurus and motivational speakers who promised that by thinking positively, individuals could achieve their goals and live a happier life. However, while the intention behind this movement was to empower individuals, it has since been criticized for promoting unrealistic expectations and ignoring the importance of emotional regulation and self-care. 


The problem with toxic positivity is that it encourages individuals to ignore or suppress negative emotions, which can lead to a number of negative consequences for mental health. For example: 

  • Suppression of negative emotions: By ignoring or downplaying negative emotions, individuals are unable to process and work through their feelings, which can lead to internalized stress and anxiety. This can also create a pressure-cooker environment where individuals feel like they have to maintain a facade of happiness and positivity at all times, leaving them feeling isolated and unsupported when they struggle. 
  • Guilt and shame: When people are unable to maintain a positive outlook, they may feel guilty or ashamed for not being able to “keep up” with the expectations of toxic positivity. This can create a vicious cycle where individuals feel like they are failing to live up to their own or society’s expectations, leading to further feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. 
  • Isolation and lack of support: When people are expected to maintain a positive outlook at all times, they may feel like they cannot reach out for help or support when they are struggling, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. This can also create an environment where individuals feel like they have to hide their true feelings and experiences, which can further undermine their mental health and well-being. 
  • Inability to recognize and address problems: By ignoring or downplaying negative emotions, individuals may not be able to identify and address problems in their lives, leading to a buildup of stress and anxiety. This can also make it difficult for individuals to seek help and support when they need it, leading to a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. 

In light of these negative consequences, it is important to recognize and challenge the unrealistic expectations and beliefs associated with toxic positivity. Here are some strategies for doing so: 

  • Practice self-care and self-compassion: This includes taking time to process and acknowledge negative emotions, engaging in self-care activities, and being kind and understanding to oneself. This can help individuals develop a healthier and more balanced outlook on life and experience greater happiness and well-being. 
  • Connect with others: Reach out to friends and family members for support, or consider joining a support group to connect with others who are also struggling. This can help individuals feel less isolated and alone, and provide them with a safe space to express their feelings and experiences. 
  • Learn to regulate emotions: This includes practicing mindfulness and emotional regulation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, to help manage stress and negative emotions. This can help individuals develop greater emotional intelligence and resilience, and reduce the impact of toxic positivity on their mental health. 
  • Reframe negative thoughts: Rather than ignoring or suppressing negative emotions, try to reframe them in a more positive light. For example, instead of thinking “I’m a failure,” try to focus on what you have learned from the experience and what you can do differently in the future. This can help individuals develop a more resilient and flexible outlook on life, and reduce the negative impact of toxic positivity. 

In conclusion, toxic positivity is a harmful and unrealistic belief system that can have a negative impact on mental health. To handle toxic positivity, it is important to recognize and challenge these beliefs, practice self-care and self-compassion, connect with others, and learn to regulate emotions. By doing so, individuals can create a healthier and more balanced outlook on life and experience greater happiness and well-being. By recognizing and addressing toxic positivity, we can create a more supportive and understanding society that promotes mental health and well-being for all individuals. 


About The Author

Dr. Krisca is a highly-educated and skilled physician who has obtained a BS Public Health degree from the University of the Philippines Manila and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the De La Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute. She is a licensed physician and also a Registered Medical Technologist. She has received additional training in Hemodialysis for Non-Nephro Physicians on duty and has completed online courses in related fields like depression in populations from John Hopkins University and positive psychiatry from The University of Sydney. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of International Health in the University of the Philippines. 


Dr. Krisca is known for her outstanding skills and compassionate approach to healthcare that make a positive impact on people’s lives. Through her passion for healthcare, she hopes to make a difference in the world and help people lead healthier, happier lives. 

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