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Toxic Positivity Has No Place in 2021

The dark side of ‘good vibes’

It’s been merely a week since we closed the book on 2020, yet nothing has truly gotten better. We’re still living through a pandemic. America went through a coup attempt, and Kim and Kanye are apparently getting a divorce. 

Yet, we’ve all felt the urge to let our guards down, somehow convinced that with a new year will come drastic, and immediate change. You might have heard of the term toxic positivity, and that might just be the reason why you’ve been feeling exceptionally optimistic, despite the circumstances. 

Let’s break it down first. You’ve definitely come across some form of toxic positivity while scrolling down your IG feed during lockdown. It might have taken the shape of a cringy influencer preaching how ‘we’re all in this together’ whilst doing yoga 24/7, or a friend who obsessively made banana bread thinking baking is the way out of a pandemic. 

To be fair to them, we all tried to tune out and look for reasons to be optimistic despite being bombarded with bad news on a daily basis. And that’s probably why we became victim to constantly making positive assumptions about the future that never actually came to be.

“While cultivating a positive mind-set is a powerful coping mechanism, toxic positivity stems from the idea that the best or only way to cope with a bad situation is to put a positive spin on it and not dwell on the negative,” explained Natalie Dattilo, a clinical health psychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital to the Washington Post. “It results from our tendency to undervalue negative emotional experiences and overvalue positive ones.”

So yes, making resolutions for 2021 is great. It’s ok to look forward to achieving your hot girl summer body and eventually checking new countries off your travel bucket-list. 

But setting unrealistic goals, which are either financially or physically impossible (hello visa and lockdown restrictions) can lead to disappointment. 

By looking at the current situation, disappointment is still to come.  According to experts we’ll still be practicing social distancing and wearing masks for at least another year.

So if you’re eager to make up for what you missed out on last year, you might want to look for a better strategy than obsessively planning your summer vacation way ahead of time. Instead, focusing on the present might be a real mental health savior.  

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