Opinion: Positivity should be balanced with a realistic attitude

By Farah Bassyouni Apr 8, 2022
Credit: Liam Killian
Credit: Liam Killian

Positivity is an important mindset that many might champion as the secret to a healthy life. The phrase “in with the good out with the bad,” comes to mind. While I agree that having a positive outlook on life is a great start to self improvement, it can only get you so far. When people start to see life as only experiencing the good things, while manifesting all of the negative aspects away, we stray into the realm of toxic positivity. 

Think about this in physical terms. If you were to break your ankle, you wouldn’t ignore the pain of walking and permanently injure yourself by thinking it will get better on its own. You need to rest, put the leg in a cast, and maybe take medication that would reduce the pain. The same can be said for emotional discomfort. 

Toxic positivity festers when a person uses their positive outlook on life in order to ignore negative feelings. The bad feelings are necessary because that is how we foster communication and healthy relationships. You may ask, “But what’s wrong with trying to think happy thoughts?” I don’t have a problem with trying to make something good out of a bad situation, but there comes a point when you have to feel the negative emotions. You are feeling those emotions for a reason. 

If a stressful event has occurred which alters the course of your week, month or life, the problem will not go away just by ignoring it and only thinking about good things.

 It is important to feel uncomfortable sometimes, because that is where growth happens. Discomfort helps us grow to become better people. We don’t change by wishing things away or pretending that they don’t exist. Doing so only makes our discomfort greater in the future. If there is conflict with someone, refusing to speak only heightens the issue and inflates the tensions that could have been diffused earlier. 

I think that examining why we feel a certain way is important to self discovery. If we can gain an understanding of what exactly is provoking us to feel stressed or upset, then we can work towards eliminating or minimizing that stressor. This can allow us to possess the tools to go on and live a healthy life. 

 Positivity is a wonderful tool to help people look on the bright side of things, but when it becomes a Band-Aid for avoiding problems and evading discomfort where you should be feeling it, positivity becomes a hindrance more than a help. Building healthy relationships with yourself and others is about communication and not just focusing on the good. Good things do happen, and we should appreciate it when they do, but realism focuses our attention on becoming better people. Understand negative emotions, treat them, and let yourself heal. 

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