Psychology: 9 phrases that are typical of toxic positive people

Overdoing something is almost always unhealthy – this also applies to optimism and positivity. These sentences are typical of people who go too far when it comes to positivity.

There is nothing wrong with a positive outlook on life. Hope builds up, gratitude makes you happy, and smiles inspire sympathy. However, as with anything in life, we can overdo it with optimism and positive thinking. The fact that there are downsides in this world makes sense, and ignoring them cannot work. That is why the term in psychology Toxic Positivity enforced: Exaggerated positive thinking can be proven to be harmful.

In an often-cited experiment, scientists showed disturbing films to two groups of test persons (it is said to have been video material of medical interventions, so really not for the faint of heart). One test group was allowed to watch the clips and react authentically, the other was instructed to pretend everything was okay. In both groups, the researchers measured the stress level (based on pulse rate, pupil movement, sweat production and so on) and lo and behold: the group that showed nothing was significantly higher on average than the group that released its negative emotions Let run. Pretending that everything is fine when it isn’t, can obviously trigger stress in us, and it is known to be anything but healthy in the long run.

Another serious problem with over-optimism is the term Toxic Positivity justifies: In the long term it can isolate us and make us lonely and that is probably one of the worst fates that can overtake us as humans. Always seeing everything as positive is unrealistic and implausible, so in other people such an attitude usually involuntarily encourages distrust, and sometimes also envy. Nobody can identify with a superhuman, on whom everything negative seems to roll off. In addition, it connects to have to trudge through the shallows of life together. A suffering shared is a suffering halved and getting upset about the terrible winter weather, incompetent politics or stubborn viruses creates a connection that makes the evil of this world more bearable.

All of this does not mean that we should burn our gratitude diaries and fret and grieve with glee about everything that is reasonably possible to do so. It’s about finding a healthy level, recognizing and appreciating the positive and seeing and dealing with the negative. And by the way, it looks different from person to person: some people are naturally more optimistic than others, while some people with a more pessimistic attitude drive better and live healthier lives. But even if someone is one of the most optimistic people of all, the following sentences are typical for Toxic Positivity and mostly a signal that the person in question is overdoing their positive thinking a little.

9 phrases that are typical of toxic positive people

1. “Don’t even think about it, just be optimistic.”

It is certainly not motivating to always assume the worst and worry about everything that could or will happen. But sometimes and some people it helps to play through negative scenarios to feel prepared or to protect yourself from situations that would break you.

2. “It could be worse.”

The thought that it could be worse or that others are worse off can actually comfort some people in some situations, and allowing this comforting effect is perfectly okay. But this statement does not change anything about the matter itself or the unpleasant emotions that it may and may trigger.

3. “Everything happens for a higher reason.”

Faith and spirituality give us stability and there is nothing against looking for strength and hope in them. But sometimes the world is just stupid, unjust, and a higher order cannot be recognized, and it is perfectly okay to be frustrated about it.

4. “Failure is not an option.”

Allowing and recognizing mistakes and failures is a prerequisite for growing and developing. And unfortunately, this allowing and acknowledging includes feeling and enduring the disappointment and insecurity that failure triggers in us.

5. “Never give up.”

There is no shame in giving up when we realize that it is better for us than doggedly to follow a path. Everything doesn’t turn out smoothly or well for us.

6. “Look at it positively.”

Everything has several sides, positive, negative, funny, sad, ugly and many more. Accepting life in all its facets means dealing with as many of these aspects as possible and engaging with them – not just the positive ones.

7. “There are no limits, only goals.”

There is no instruction manual for life that stipulates which goals we have to achieve and tick off in order to use it meaningfully. Our personal goals give us orientation, but we have no guarantee that they will show us the optimal path. If we reach a limit in front of a goal that we do not want to or cannot overcome, we can be sad and disappointed about it – but there is no reason not to accept it.

8. “With the right attitude you can do anything.”

With a healthy mindset, we can survive quite well in most cases, but we cannot and do not have to do everything. We are much more than our mindset and everything that belongs to us – tiredness, reluctance, wrinkles, a lack of stamina – has its justification.

9. “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Worries can actually degenerate into compulsive brooding and inaction. But we cannot be permanent and only happy. Even in paradise by the sea without duties and financial worries, this cannot be achieved. At some point happiness loses its charm or value and we feel a lack. Why this is so may be known to those who can explain why there must be good and bad, beautiful and ugly, right and wrong, and why it is not done with one side. But that’s the way it is: not only can we be happy, sometimes we have to feel bad too. And only if we acknowledge and allow that, the positive is and remains really positive.

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