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Social Support Based on Toxic Positivity Minimizes Mental Health Issues (Rather than Reducing Them)

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toxic positivity

This generation of young adults is ironically known as the self-care generation as they are more aware of mental health issues and promote positivity online, however, they are also experiencing higher rates of depression and anxiety. While most people are well-intentioned when they try to offer support, often the language they use to reassure people that they are okay and that they have a lot of good things going on in their lives, it sends the message that “their problems aren’t big enough, they should show more gratitude, and they shouldn’t be complaining.” Instead of being supportive, blanket statements or affirmations can sound more like toxic positivity than genuine empathy. 

Challenging negative beliefs with more realistic ones and holding onto hope even when the future seems dark are effective ways of coping. Repeating affirmations to yourself and seeking out positive experiences are effective ways of coping. However, positivity isn’t always the best way to help others. For some, it can be invalidating. For others, it sounds impossible. One of the biggest problems with toxic positivity is that it prevents people from taking a deeper look at why they’re experiencing problems in their life and what possible solutions might be. 

What is toxic positivity?

While promoting messages like “good vibes only” and “believe in yourself” are well-intentioned, people who are struggling with overwhelming negative emotions and self-doubt feel left out of the conversation and invalidated for having different experiences. Although self-love and self-care are great goals, they don’t come to most young adults naturally, even if they are advertised to be innate qualities. Self-love and self-care take work and should come from within oneself rather than from messages read online. 

What is authentic positivity?

Most people who reach out for support aren’t looking for inspiration, they’re looking for validation that their negative feelings are okay and that they are not hopeless. Usually, they’re looking for concrete suggestions and alternatives that sound more realistic to them than “get out of bed” and “stop crying.” 

Authentic positivity validates how stressful and difficult situations or emotions can be and empowers young adults to believe they have a choice. Rather than feeling like they have to be positive all the time and can’t show negative emotions or else people will be disappointed, they begin to recognize areas they have control over and to let go of blaming themselves when they have to give up. It encourages people to accept where they are at emotionally and opens space for them to talk about how they’d rather feel instead.

There are no wrong emotions. Everyone experiences a full range of emotions, from positive to negative. It is normal to feel hopeless from time to time and to be open about it with others without feeling shamed for being overwhelmed by stressful situations.                                                                                                             

Journey Home Can Help 

Journey Home is a small residential treatment program for girls and assigned female at birth 16 – 21 years old. This is a program enforces a community-based treatment option for young girls and assigned female at birth. It is specifically designed for residents who have successfully completed a therapeutic treatment program but may need more help in transitioning back home. Journey Home West focuses on healthy living, education, responsibilities, and social integration as key components of the program. Young people leave this program feeling empowered, happy, and healthy. 

We empower teens who struggle with trauma, loss, depression, anxiety, and body image issues to overcome negative emotions and experiences by offering a space to feel whatever they’re feeling and to process the challenges they continue to face with our genuine and compassionate staff.

Contact us at (801) 444-0794 to learn more about our relationship-based program. We can help your family today!