What? I Am So Confused….Is Being Positive A Bad Thing?

“What are your thoughts on toxic positivity?” one of the attendees asked the speaker.

This fall, I was a speaker in a live virtual summit on self-care. An essential topic for everyone nowadays, and I was excited to be one of the 12 speakers. One of the attendees posed a question to another fellow speaker regarding her thoughts on toxic positivity. The speaker responded with her viewpoint and referred to it as “gross.”


I briefly scratched my head. (To be honest. I think my head spun around my body.)  Intuitively I knew what this phrase meant without even hearing it. But, just to be sure, at lightning speed, I Googled to make sure I was correct. And yes, I was right.

Below is the definition from the article that I immediately found via Google.

“Toxic positivity is the assumption, either by oneself or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset or — my pet peeve term — ‘positive vibes,’” explains Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, a clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania who specializes in, among other things, anxiety disorders and self-esteem.

Are we now shaming positive people?

What’s wrong with practicing positivity? Is someone trying to put a spin on positivity? Is it a reflection on themselves and where they are in their life?

I have always been a positive person. My glass is half full. I believe it’s a product of my environment and I was wired this way from a soul level. That’s doesn’t mean I don’t get angry, disappointed, sad. I am still human. But I have done the work for years and years and can recognize it and move on.  It doesn’t serve me to walk around pissed off, or sad, does it? How could it? Even though I consider myself positive, I spent most of my adult life complaining, judging, venting, and it stemmed from my environment. So, I stopped those negative relationships and became even more positive. Toxic positivity? – bah humbug.

If we condone positive people, doesn’t that mean we are taking steps backward? As I was researching this article it is shocking to me the amount of people jumping on this bandwagon vs, standing up for positivity.

You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” – Jim Rohn.

This famous quote can go either further to all the people you surround yourself with. Do you choose positive people or not?

Everything in your life is a choice.

I learned that my first day of Accounting 101, freshman year at Purdue University. I don’t remember much from college except for all the parties and cute boys, but I remember that. And almost 30 years later, I still practice it. Don’t worry; my dad already knows that’s about all I learned in college.

I find it hard to believe that there is any scientific evidence that being in a bad mood or sitting in your sorrows vs. trying to change your mindset and be positive is a good thing. My science is when I am happy, I feel good. No one had to run a test on me to know how I feel.  And why wouldn’t you want to feel good?

And I want to be around people that make me feel good. Again, the people you surround yourself with is a choice. I do not want to be affected by other people’s bad energy. What does that solve? And on the flip side, why would they want to be around me if I were negative? Yuck!

But, there is an old saying, “Misery loves company.” I have heard it said that easier for some people to connect via venting, gossiping, or being negative. Why is that?  I remember often going to lunch with a co-worker and complaining the whole time. It always seemed the easiest to find things to complain about. This habit went on for years. It’s a hard habit to break if that’s the environment you are in, but you can do it.

I get it. It can be utterly annoying if you have dealt with whatever your challenge is. I am sure you have heard the phrase, “nails on a chalkboard.” And again, I am human and have had those instances, more than I can count. But the goal is to change that.

The more I think about the concept of toxic positivity, the more my mind reels. But, I need to stay on a positive track, so I am taking energy away from the topic. Yes, I am taking energy away. You can practice being intentional with your energy. It gets easier over time.

Here are my simple (but not always easy, it takes practice) steps to help when you are dealing with a challenge:

  1. Recognize where you are and give yourself grace.
  2. Have the confidence to deal with what you need to change or reach out to someone and get help.
  3. Take action to move forward and shift your thoughts to something more pleasing, fun, or uplifting.

Bonus Tip: Have some ready-to-go ideas of things you like to think about in your mind that you can easily reach towards. My example is I love the beach. I can quickly shift my mindset to thinking about the beach, having a house at the beach, visiting the beach, etc. Everyone has something that they like to think about. The trick is to remember to think of those things instead of thinking about the negative.  Something the majority of people do not choose to do. But you can choose to do it and break the pattern of negative thoughts.

Why not intend to get to a happy place where life isn’t so difficult, and good things can flow your way?

I know that’s my intention, whether you think it’s toxic or not, and I am positive about that.

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