Sector News

‘Tragic optimism’: The antidote to toxic positivity

March 14, 2021
Borderless Leadership

Amid grim times, putting on your biggest smile may seem like the best coping mechanism. However, that approach could be harmful – but luckily, there’s another way through.

Over the last year, as the pandemic has morphed from terrifying to inconvenient to long-term life-altering event, our coping mechanisms have had to adapt and evolve. Yet there have been differences in the ways we’ve approached time spent in isolation.

For some, positivity has been essential to coping with the crisis – many have relished a chance to slow down and reevaluate, felt grateful to still have a job or kept the good things in perspective (even while balancing virtual schooling, remote work and keeping the family safe). Of course, staying upbeat and expressing gratitude are hardly adverse practices, but this unrelenting optimism – known as ‘toxic positivity’ – paints negative emotions as a failure or weakness. Plus, there are few things more grating than encountering a toxic positivist when you’re grappling with grim reality.

And failing to acknowledge hardships can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. Persistent reminders to reflect on ‘how good we have it’ in the midst of strife and struggle don’t make sadness, fear or anxiety dissipate, research shows. Instead, suppressing negative emotions can actually make us feel worse. READ MORE

By Allie Volpe

Source: bbc.com/worklife

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