What is 'toxic positivity'? The harmful coping mechanism, explained.

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Unhappy woman is drawing a smile on her face in the mirror

“Just think positively!”

“It could be worse.” 

“You should look at the bright side!”

We’ve all heard (and maybe used) these phrases without much thought, but they could be contributing to a culture of toxic positivity.

For those new to this term, it might sound like an oxymoron. How can positivity be toxic? Isn’t it supposed to be helpful or “positive” as the name suggests?

According to experts, too much constant, forced positivity can lead to the opposite and have a negative effect. 

What is toxic positivity?

“Toxic positivity is when somebody avoids all negative thoughts or feelings, pretending everything is going well when it is not,” explains Melissa Dowd, a therapist at PlushCare, a virtual health platform for primary care and mental health services. 

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