I grew up in a family that restricted me from feeling and expressing negative emotions. We were not allowed to fight at home. Being angry, sad or stressed was not a good thing and we were not supposed to feel it. We were told to be ‘positive’ all the time. As a child, most of my negative emotions were not validated. I was called “intolerant” because I got angry and hurt when people did something bad to me. I was called “arrogant” because I spoke against people who crossed my boundaries. I was told to not get “too worked up” when I vented out my suppressed emotions(cause I was not able to express or direct it to the right people). I was always advised and told to be “positive” to not get “affected”, to dismiss those “emotions” cause they were just negative and to “forgive” the people and “change” myself. This is “toxic positivity”. “Toxic positivity or positive toxicity is dysfunctional emotional management without the full acknowledgment of negative emotions, particularly anger and sadness.”(Wikipedia)
I am not here to encourage you to shout at every person in the room and punch all of them on the face. But we need to always have a safe space to vent out, validate, express and assert our emotions. It should be accepted and let out. One should not feel guilty for experiencing humane emotions. The dangers of toxic positivity should be highlighted. Speaking from personal experience, one could feel guilty, have trouble saying no, accept toxic behaviours, tolerate abuse, not speak up for themselves etc. One would gaslight themselves and blame themselves for other people’s mistakes. Can you relate to this? Then, oh guys, STOP, RIGHT THERE!!!Believe me, when I say that we would go out of the way to justify toxic behaviours and abuse of other people and even let sexual and physical abusers get away easily(on extreme cases). Yes, just because we are not able to process and express our negative emotions. Cause let’s face it..we were told that we were the problem up until now(Hai!It’s me. I am the problem, it’s me.)
We cannot change the things we have been taught. But we can work on it. It requires some inner work but it is time we made peace with our negative emotions. It took me some time but I discovered the pattern in my past friendships and reactions. I am slowly learning to accept and validate my negative emotions. Yes, it is okay to be angry, sad and stressed. Healthy expression of negative emotions is essential to mental health and survival. A person who cannot express disapproval or show anger or the least be open about their feelings would be constantly stepped on and used by others. Ouch!!But it is the truth.