Have you ever wondered how being in a state of toxic positivity can affect your mental health and recovery? Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, you might not be aware of the harmful effects of positive thinking and how it affects your mood and overall well-being.
This article will help you uncover what exactly is going on with toxic positivity and better understand why it can make your recovery worse instead of better.
Research on Positivity
Our society emphasizes the practice of positive thinking. Researchers’ study shows that people consider “positive thinking” as essential to achieving happiness and other accomplishments. Too often, people advise each other to maintain a constant stream of positive thinking to avoid all negative thinking. Today, positive thinking has garnered immense popularity in psychology, the healthcare industry, and the business world. The growing popularity arose from people believing that positivity is enough to battle the challenges of stress, adversities, and even mental health issues. Yet, current research uncovers no formidable correlation between positivity and health.
Yes, optimistic people experience a lower mortality rate, better health, and recover from diseases faster. The research reveals this correlation occurs because good health causes cheerfulness. Essentially, someone with a good immune system seldom gets sick, and as a result, has better opportunities to be happy. Following such a line of thought, people who experience healthy households, less exposure to family substance use disorder (SUD), or mental health issues have more opportunities to achieve happiness and far less stress.
Meaning of Toxic Positivity?
Examining our thinking patterns and questioning our assumptions play an important role in living fuller lives. Such a process helps people avoid destructive thinking patterns that often affect their mental health. For example, toxic positivity falls under a pattern of destructive thinking. Toxic positivity refers to ways of thinking that attract people to overindulge positively. Its simplistic approach may prove dangerous to a person’s recovery. Toxic positivity emboldens people to avoid looking at their entire emotional spectrum and accept the less positive parts of their current circumstances or past. As a result, toxic positivity can negatively affect your mental health and well-being.
Toxic Positivity and Your Recovery
Sometimes, individuals with a SUD attempt to use positive thinking to assist their recovery. Although positivity helps, we suggest individuals with a SUD consider the limitations of positive thinking, especially as it turns to toxic positivity. Often, individuals fall into the trap of toxic positivity when seeking a means to avoid their emotions or thoughts, especially the difficult ones. As a form of faulty thinking, toxic positivity leaves many vulnerable to mental and emotional factors that can lead to SUD. Toxic positivity often leads to people:
- Underestimating the severity of their circumstances or condition
- Feeling shameful over seeking help
- Having false hope that things will improve in living in dangerous situations
- Feeling less-than over falling short of feeling happiness
- Ignoring the problems of their relationships that lead to poor conflict resolution
- Not being able to unpack and address emotions that will help the healing process
Toxic Positivity and Your Mental Health
Over the past few years, toxic positivity has become a growing problem. Toxic positivity is a type of unhealthy thinking that often leads to psychological well-being problems. Most people want to feel joyful, happy, and energetic. Yet, too many find it nearly impossible for their positive aspirations to translate into positive emotions. When we overly focus on the positive, we forget or avoid the negative. As a result, these negative emotions continue to mount with no resolve. Unresolved feelings often lead to more stress, depression, and other mental health issues. This type of thinking can become dangerous because we diminish our ability and know-how to resolve and address our negative emotions.
Tips for Overcoming Toxic Positivity
Being authentic with “who you are” will reduce toxic positivity by accepting oneself and emotions. The following methods can also help:
- Practicing healthy habits: Apply a blend of exercise, proper nutrition, and regular sleep to practice self-care and help maintain your mood for greater authenticity. In addition, such a healthy routine leads to a natural reduction of stress and improved emotional stability.
- Express your feelings or thoughts: Feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or angry? Instead of just depending on positive affirmations, find a trustworthy person to share these feelings. Learning to share openly can help you shift perspective and get the help you desire.
- Reframe your thoughts: Our emotions are strongly tied to our thoughts, which you can see the evidence of in your behavior and choices. To improve emotions, consider reframing your thoughts and words. You can take a new perspective on things and often find that your old ideas no longer work. To help, consider implementing strategies, such as self-reflective journaling or mindfulness.
- Adopt a recovery outlook: When your outlook appreciates the growth process, you’re far more likely to accept and resolve growing pains appropriately. Challenges or growing pains help us see opportunities for development in our lives.
- Practice Acceptance: Living a healthier, authentic life calls for honesty. This means a person is candid and open to learning from their mistakes. Instead of adopting a “fake it till you make it” ethos, face the trials on your path sincerely. Such actions help foster genuine acceptance of the difficulties we all eventually encounter. Accept that the process encompasses making mistakes and needing time to improve one’s life.
One of the most valuable parts of recovery is recognizing our humanity and accepting the things we cannot change. This is especially valuable for recovery from SUD.
Toxic positivity can be hard to spot because it can often go unnoticed. Yet, it develops in individuals with a SUD, individuals with a mental health disorder like depression, or simply individuals living with emotional pain. A lack of realistic expectations for the future or a lack of perception of their circumstances can lead to toxic positivity. Toxic positivity leads to an individual not accepting what is happening in their life and instead focusing on what they think it should be like. Such an attitude makes it difficult to recover by not dealing with stress and anxiety. You need to know how to resolve those emotions to continue living in recovery. At Restoration Recovery Center, we show our participants beneficial methods to resolve their emotional pain and the consequences of living with a substance use disorder and mental health issues. To learn more about our methods, contact us at (888) 290-0925.