Good Vibes, Sometimes
Contrary to popular belief, we’re still in a global pandemic. People are still dying and it’s still critical to take necessary precautions in order to be safe.
What’s worse is when people use religion to justify their egoism - which they mask as being strong in faith. When people ask “Why worry when you can have faith?” to be honest, it’s annoying. Toxic positivity is real and some people hide behind religion to escape real life and real circumstances. This is dangerous.
Toxic positivity is the notion that you should always have a positive response to every situation, no matter how severe the circumstance is. Of course, always sitting in negativity is not healthy. However, what makes this positivity toxic is that it invalidates feelings and makes people feel weak for not being able to put a smile on their face at all times. It’s a one-way street to denial and avoidance.
Toxic positivity is the overgeneralization of an optimistic disposition in all situations. It’s portraying yourself as positive and happy even if that may not be the truth. It’s also encouraging yourself and others to be positive, while ignoring or invalidating other feelings. It’s actively pushing away or ignoring negative or triggering feelings, and putting a band-aid of positivity over it. The problem is that it doesn’t correct or change the mindset or attitude. It buries feelings that keep you from real breakthrough.
As Black women, we are all too familiar with the strong Black woman stereotype. Many of us encounter guilt when experiencing any emotions outside of gratitude. And although it's good to have perspective, we still are human and need to be able to express all of which makes us who we are - and that includes our full spectrum of emotions.
The worst is thing ever is avoiding emotions; it always seems to come back and bite you in the butt eventually. It puts us on a slippery slope to magnifying your problem and making it bigger. I don’t care how much you try; you can’t program yourself to only feel happiness. You need to be able to recognize and acknowledge fear, anxiousness, sadness, grief, worry, and a host of other emotions so that you can healthily process them when you come across them again.
When you push a toxic positivity agenda, it makes you unapproachable and unrelatable. People will less likely interact or confide in you on any real level if all your emotions are perceived as happy. It’s difficult to build intimacy with someone if you can’t be vulnerable with them and share emotions other than happiness. You can inadvertently shame others for feeling bad about their situations.
Releasing difficult emotions and thoughts is never easy but it’s better than ignoring them. Perhaps, we can think of our emotions as neither good or bad. Instead, we can acknowledge and validate all our emotions to better understand ourselves and others.