This post would talk about our mental health, toxic positivity and having rational optimism in this time of quarantine.
Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog. How are you all? I hope you are well and doing fine while staying at home. For today’s post, I want to share some of my thoughts about this whole quarantine thing that we all have been experiencing for the past month.
I have been reading The Plague by Albert Camus for the past weeks and like in the story, no one has anticipated that in one snap, everything would turn out like this. Our lives that we have planned out for a long time eventually just stopped and everything else gets conflicted. I know that we miss the normal days. We miss going to school or at work no matter how hard some days can be. We miss meeting with friends. We miss going out to dinner with our loved ones and all the outside stuff that we have been doing for the past years. It’s very different now since more and more people are getting infected everyday, there are people dying each single day ever since the outbreak started and many people who are isolated experiences mental breakdowns, anxiety, depression and fear of what’s going to happen. This is reality and we need to see this. In these times, we can’t just say and imply to other people to just look at the brighter side of things, because apparently, there’s not. There’s a huge controversy going on with the people who spread toxic positivity and those who are having rational hopes or in better terms, rational optimism and I will talk about this today. If there is any way that I am wrong, please feel free to correct me. I would also love to know your insights at the end of the post.
First, let’s talk about the meaning of toxic positivity. Psychology Today says that “the phrase “toxic positivity” refers to the concept that keeping positive, and keeping positive only, is the right way to live your life. It means only focusing on positive things and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions.”
This is when you say to your friends and in your social media platforms that everything is alright so let’s just stay positive. Apparently, there is nothing wrong with being positive in life BUT it becomes toxic when you reject the concept of life suffering and imply it to yourself or to others. For example, your friend might be suffering from mental health problems and then you say, “hey, it’s not that bad. Always look at the bright side!” This is toxic because you dismiss your friend from feeling what he/she truly feels. You insist to show your own perspective rather than listening to your friend and empathizing with him/her. It can also apply to yourself when you disregard your own pain and suffering rather than embracing it.
Another example is when you, yourself, is not feeling well. Let’s say that you’ve been feeling bad with all the things that’s going on around you. You are anxious about a lot of things and you don’t want to embrace it. You probably would say that “everything happens for a reason” but instead of saying that, you could say, “hey, it’s okay to feel bad. This is perfectly normal. This, too, shall pass.” Embrace it. Don’t just reject your own feelings and sufferings because it is a part of your own growth.
Rational optimism is better than being overly positive. In rational optimism, you do not deny reality. Instead, you look at things rationally and having a proper assessment of the present situation and then you embrace it. When people are overly too optimist, what they believe in is their mindset, and it’s the only thing that matters. Rational optimists believe that mindset matters, but they also recognize that reality is part of the formula. And this is what I mean in the example above.
How do we distinguish toxic positivity from rational optimism?
There are times that it’s really hard to distinguish the difference. However, as stated above, toxic positivity starts when you reject the concept of life pain and suffering. It is normal for a human person to experience pain and all the failures we experience are part of our own growth. Here are some scenarios that makes positivity toxic:
- When we pretend to be all-good and well when in reality, we’re just hiding what we truly feel and when we dismiss our own emotions rather than embrace it.
- When we feel that it’s not okay to feel not okay; when we feel guilty because we’re feeling bad or not okay for the day.
- When we invalidate other people’s experiences and life problems and say, “there’s so much worse than that.” All feelings are VALID and we don’t have the right to shame other people for what they’re feeling.
- When we encounter a lot of life issues and ignores it from time to time. We can’t just run away from our own personal issues. We have to face it because if we don’t, we’re just escalating it and we will never get the chance to address what makes us unhappy.
Sources: Tanglaw Mental Health and Psychology Today
There are a lot of times that I’ve shared positivity to my friends and even here in this blog, not knowing that it’s not rational optimism but toxic positivity. The past year that I have not been posting, I was able to reflect and learn about this and now, I’m sharing it with you guys.
Now, in this time of quarantine, many people are feeling isolated. Now is not the time to be spreading toxic positivity. What we can do to ourselves or to our friends is to be rational in spreading genuine positivity; to be rational in spreading hope. I believe that there is always hope, we just need to learn how to weigh it and how to share it without being overly too positive which could result once again, to toxic positivity.
Let’s be more rational in these times. I really hope you learned something from this. I also want to know in the comments below what your thoughts are.
Do you agree about toxic positivity? What are your thoughts? Let’s talk about it!
Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in the next post!
Please stay at home and don’t go out unless very necessary; practice social distancing if you do. Salute to all the front liners risking their own lives to help in this whole situation. You are all heroes! Speak up to the government/authorities if they’re not doing their part. Wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Contact your families, relatives and friends who are far away from you, make sure they are safe and well. Pray deeper. Stay safe everyone!