Feeling happy ALL the time? Forcing yourself to see the positive in everything? Shutting people down when they start to tell you how they are struggling emotionally by telling them everything works out for the best? Are you convinced that there is always something good happening, always?
If I just described you, then you are a victim to toxic positivity. Negative emotions can be very powerful, but so are you. You, and your friends/family, can not only tolerate unhappiness in all its forms, they and you will also thrive if you all allow yourselves to authentically feel discomfort.
Forced positivity is much more destructive than any emotional discomfort could ever be. This toxic positivity demands that everything is for the best, everyone is good and happy, and if you feel sadness or frustration or anger or depression or frightened, you are somehow failing to see all the good around you.
Life is hard at times. There are very good causes for uncomfortable emotions. When we pretend we aren't feeling them, we are in denial. Psychological research is filled with studies that show denying our emotions (experiential avoidance) is, in fact, damaging.
No one should feel happy when a loved one dies, when they lose a pregnancy, when their beloved leaves them, when someone betrays them. Sometimes things do not work out for the best. These life events, and many more, are upsetting. We face them, feel the emotional pain, and then we can work through them. We grow when we process the hard times. We deny them and pretend we are fine, and they own us.
Facing these kinds of difficult situations requires that we feel deep emotions that make us uncomfortable. Emotions always pass. If they didn’t you would still be laughing at the first joke you heard when you were 4 years old. Your heart would still be broken by the first love of your life.
Some painful events persist through time, but when we have a steady sense of well being, we can continue to move through life with equanimity. If we never allow ourselves to feel the depths of loss, disappointment, betrayal, sadness, we never feel our ability to navigate what is thrown at us and still continue to do well, even if we are not happy.
The bottom line is that happiness is overrated. Seeing only the positive in all things isn’t good at any level. Toxic positivity stunts us. We lose our opportunity to grow, heal, develop more strength, and ultimately feel more compassion.
So, let your heart break when it needs to be broken, only then can you heal. Let your friends sob on your shoulder. Tolerate the discomfort of being powerless to make everything better for them.
Everyone has an inner strength born of wisdom. Let them find theirs. Let yourself find yours.