How Toxic Positivity Can Be Harmful - Honesty Training

How Pressure to Be Positive Can Backfire


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What gets in the way of developing and holding on to new communication skills are old habits of thinking and speaking. Even if the advice is very good the reason why it rarely sticks are the mental habits people inevitably revert to, especially under pressure.

Unlearning those old habits and internalising a more effective and lasting approach to communication needs more than a short course of lectures on how to do it.

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Course Summary

Training Objectives

You're smiling, but are you feeling okay? It's common to hide our true feelings. Research says pretending to be happy can hurt us more than it helps. This training course will show you the difference between being positive and being too positive. It might just change your outlook.

  • Toxic positivity means always acting happy, even if you're not. It can stop people from handling their true feelings and create more harm than good.
  • Optimism lets us see the good in hard times while still feeling sad or upset. This is better than toxic positivity because it allows for real emotions.
  • Hiding how we feel can make us feel alone and stressed. Sharing our true thoughts with friends makes tough times easier.
  • Allowing all emotions helps keep our minds healthy. We should talk about our feelings instead of hiding them.
  • Being too positive all the time does not fix problems. It's important to face what's bothering us to really get better.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

You will learn a set of powerful emotional intelligence communication techniques so that you can manage difficult conversations, handle challenging situations, build relationships and set firm boundaries.

Transferable Skills

The goal of this training is to equip you with the tools you need to build strong, lasting relationships in your professional life, although because these skills are so transferable many clients report vast improvements in their personal relationships as well.

Develop Skills

This is a skills development rather than just a theoretical programme, so the emphasis throughout will be on you taking turn after turn, practising your skills, while receiving feedback and coaching about your effect on others.

Repeated Practice and Feedback

In your coaching sessions you will be helped to practise dealing with the kinds of situation you find challenging, again and again, until you are confident you can do it successfully.

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We'll combine practical, hands-on experience with video replay and analysis and discussion of the principles involved to help you gain both skills and understanding. Special attention is paid to your individual training needs, so you can practise your skills in real-life situations that you have to handle at work.

Sustained Change

That's why as well as your place in a small group, this training includes a generous amount of private and confidential one-to-one coaching sessions online, spread over several months, ensuring an exceptional level of support. This will ensure the changes you make are sustained over a longer period of time and any obstacles are overcome. Choose between online training available worldwide, or in-person face-to-face courses in the UK.

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For a list of upcoming course dates (for online coaching and face-to-face training), the locations of the next 3-day public courses in the UK and pricing Click here.

Free Initial Session

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People who feel understood are more receptive

What is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic positivity means always acting happy, even if you're not. It's like telling someone to smile through the pain, which doesn't help at all.


Toxic positivity is the idea that keeping positive, no matter how hard life gets, is the best way to live. It tells people to focus on good vibes only, ignoring any pain or trouble they feel.

This outlook makes it seem like having negative emotions is wrong.

This kind of positivity may sound helpful at first. Yet, it can stop a person from dealing with their real feelings. They might start pretending everything's fine even when it's not, making them hide their true self and struggles from the world and even their own mind.


Toxic positivity often hides in daily conversations and actions. It can make tough times harder. Here are some examples:

  1. Saying "Just think positive!" to someone who lost their job. This ignores the real pain and anxiety they feel.
  2. A friend always responds with "Good vibes only!" when you try to share something sad or hard. It leaves you feeling like you can't be honest.
  3. On social media, people post about being happy all the time. It makes others feel bad for not feeling the same way.
  4. Telling someone "Everything happens for a reason" after a big loss. It might make them feel their sadness isn't okay.
  5. After talking about a difficult time, getting told "Look on the bright side!" This can make it seem like your problems aren't serious.
  6. A parent tells their child "Don't be sad" when they cry. The child learns to hide their feelings instead of dealing with them.
  7. In a meeting, when one shares concerns about unrealistic deadlines and gets told, "Let's stay positive," it might lead to feeling overlooked and stressed.

Each of these examples shows how toxic positivity pushes aside real emotions and creates more harm than good in the long run, affecting mental health and well-being deeply.

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People can't help arguing when they feel misunderstood

The Difference Between Toxic Positivity and Optimism

Optimism means seeing the best in situations while accepting the bad stuff too. It's about hope and belief that things can get better, even if they're tough right now. This attitude allows people to face challenges with a positive outlook but doesn't ignore the real pain or problems they're going through.

On the other hand, toxic positivity pushes people to only feel happy or positive feelings, ignoring anything negative. It acts like a fake smile - telling someone to stay positive when they lose their job or face a mental illness.

This false positivity makes it hard for folks to be honest about how they truly feel, leading them away from understanding and support they need in tough times.

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He's now far more aware of his impact on others

Why Toxic Positivity Is Harmful

Toxic positivity can hurt us. It stops us from dealing with real problems and feelings.

Suppressing emotions

Hiding how we feel can cause a lot of harm. It keeps us from dealing with our real pain and problems. When we push down our feelings, it's like pretending they don't exist. This may make things look fine for a while, but deep down, it hurts our well-being.

Facing tough times without showing our true feelings can also lead to feeling alone or stuck. Everyone goes through hard moments where sharing and expressing could actually help. Yet, by keeping everything inside, we miss the chance to connect with friends who might support us.

This makes solving life's challenges even harder.

Feelings of shame and guilt

Toxic positivity can make people feel ashamed and guilty for having normal, sad feelings. Some folks think they must always show a happy face and say positive things. This belief makes them feel bad inside when they are not truly happy.

They may feel like they are doing something wrong by just feeling natural emotions. This shame and guilt can weigh heavily on them, making it hard to share their real feelings with others.

The pressure to stay positive can lead some to hide their true emotions from friends and family. They might worry about being judged or not getting the support they need. So, instead of getting help, they keep all their worries locked up inside.

This hiding game is tiring and doesn't fix anything in the long run---it just adds more stress. The fear that showing any sign of sadness or anger could push others away keeps them silent, but it also stops them from forming deeper connections based on truth and shared experiences.

Hiding authentic self

Hiding who you really are takes a toll. People often cover up their true feelings and experiences to show they're okay. This might mean not sharing sad news because they think it'll bring others down.

It's like wearing a mask every day, fearing that showing the real you will lead to judgment or rejection.

Doing this can make someone feel very alone, even when surrounded by friends and family. They might smile and say everything is fine, but inside, there's a struggle going on—a battle between wanting to be open and fearing what might happen if they are.

This battle keeps them from getting the support they need. It's hard, keeping all those emotions bottled up inside without letting them out for help or comfort.

Isolation from others

Toxic positivity can push people away. Friends and family might feel they can't share their real pain or negative feelings because they expect a positive spin on everything. This creates a gap.

People start to feel alone in their struggles, as they think no one wants to hear about the hard stuff. They might stop reaching out for support, making them more isolated.

Feeling cut off happens easily with fake positivity around. It feels like everyone else is living a better life, full of happiness and frequent smiling. This isn't true, but it's hard to see that when you're feeling left out.

The more we hide our authentic selves, the bigger the distance grows between us and our loved ones.


Passivity happens when people stop trying to fix or face their problems because they think staying positive is all they need. They might ignore very real pain and say things are fine, even when they're not.

This can lead them to not take action in their own life where it's needed. It's like seeing a leak in the house but just putting a bucket under it instead of fixing the hole.

Ignoring problems doesn't make them go away. Over time, this lack of action can pile up issues, making things worse. People may miss out on chances to get better or solve what's bothering them because they feel stuck in being "positive" all the time.

This can keep them from reaching out for help or changing things that make them unhappy.

Negative impact on physical health

Ignoring negative feelings because of toxic positivity can hurt your body. Stress builds up if you keep pushing away bad emotions. This stress can lead to headaches, trouble sleeping, and a weaker immune system.

Over time, constant stress might cause heart problems or make it hard for you to fight off sickness.

Trying to stay positive all the time makes some people ignore signs that their health is getting worse. They might not get help when they need it. This can turn small health issues into big ones.

Also, feeling alone or ashamed because you are hiding your true feelings can make physical pain feel even stronger. So, being told to "just be positive" isn't good advice for your body or mind.

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She now feels more confident in tackling people

Signs of Toxic Positivity

Toxic positivity can sneak into our lives without us even knowing. It might seem like a good thing, but it's not always healthy. Here are some signs that show toxic positivity might be at play:

  1. Only positive affirmations are welcome – Your feelings are brushed off with phrases like "Look on the bright side" or "It could be worse." These words aim to dismiss any negative emotions you're feeling.
  2. Discomfort around sadness – People might avoid you when you're sad or upset because they only want to hear happy things. This makes it hard to share real feelings.
  3. Hiding true feelings – You start to feel like you have to act happy all the time, even if you're not. It feels wrong to be anything but positive.
  4. Guilt for feeling bad – When something upsets you, and someone tells you to stay positive, you might feel guilty for having normal human emotions like sadness or anger.
  5. Surface level relationships – Friendships and conversations stay shallow because deeper talks about struggles or sadness are off-limits.
  6. Fake happiness on social media – Posts on social media show an always - happy life, hiding any real problems or negative experiences.
  7. Not dealing with problems – Instead of facing and solving issues, there's a push to just move on and forget about them with a smile.
  8. Feeling isolated – Since sharing true feelings is frowned upon, it leads to feeling alone in your struggles as if no one understands or wants to listen.
  9. Passivity in personal growth – There's no encouragement to work through tough emotions or situations for betterment; rather, the focus is solely on staying positive which can hinder genuine personal development.

Each sign points towards a culture where only happiness is valued, ignoring the rich tapestry of human emotions that includes everything from joy to sorrow.

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Are you helping them think for themselves?

How to Avoid Toxic Positivity using Emotional Intelligence

Dodging toxic positivity means tuning in to all your feelings. It's about leaning on friends and tweaking how you talk to be kinder to yourself.

Allow yourself to feel all emotions

Feeling all emotions is key to avoiding toxic positivity. It means letting yourself be sad, angry, or frustrated when you need to. This doesn't mean drowning in these feelings forever.

Instead, it's about giving them space so they don't build up inside you. By doing this, you respect your true feelings and start healing.

Find ways to express what you're going through. Talk with friends who understand, write in a journal, or maybe paint your feelings away. Acknowledging every emotion helps improve your well-being and keeps your mental health in check.

It also makes sure that the support you get from others feels real and helpful.

Find support

Surround yourself with people who listen and care. This can be friends, family, or a support group. They help you feel less alone. Talking to them about your feelings is good for your heart and mind.

It's helpful to share what's on your mind with someone who understands. A supportive person won't force you to smile when you're sad. Instead, they'll offer a shoulder to lean on. This kind of support makes tough times easier to get through.

Reframe language

Reframing language is all about choosing words that help, not hurt. It's a way of talking to yourself and others in a kinder tone. For instance, instead of saying "Don't worry about it," try "I see this is hard for you." This small change makes a big difference.

It shows empathy and understanding.

Practice this by being aware of your daily conversations. Notice how swapping just a few words can turn a chat more supportive. This skill helps in dealing with tough times better, making room for real positivity and well-being.

Plus, it encourages more meaningful connections with the people around us.

Practice self-compassion

Practising self-compassion means treating yourself kindly, just as you would a good friend who's having a hard time. It involves accepting your feelings and being gentle with yourself, instead of harsh.

If you've faced job loss or any setback, be kind to your own heart.

Learning this can shift how you view challenges - from being hard on yourself to offering support and understanding. This doesn't mean ignoring problems but facing them with care for your well-being.

Self-compassion helps in healing and moving forward without adding guilt or shame to the mix.

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Assertiveness, Listening Skills and Emotional Intelligence Training

Coping with Toxic Positivity using Emotional Intelligence

Coping with toxic positivity using emotional intelligence means learning how to manage overly positive attitudes in a smart way. This could help you feel better and connect more with others.

Check it out for tips on handling too much cheerfulness wisely!

Dealing with it from others

You might find yourself facing toxic positivity from friends or family. They could tell you to "just be happy" when you're feeling down. It's hard, but try not to get upset with them straight away.

Instead, talk about how their words make you feel. Explain that it helps more when they listen and understand your feelings.

Sometimes, people at work can push toxic positivity too. They may ignore real problems and say everything is great. If this happens, show them by example. Share your true feelings in a positive way.

This might help them see the value in being real instead of always acting happy.

Addressing it in yourself

To tackle toxic positivity in yourself, start by accepting all your feelings. This means saying it's okay to feel sad, angry or scared. Life isn't always sunny. By doing this, you create a space where every emotion gets respect and attention.

Next step? Listen to what these feelings are telling you. They might point out something that needs change in your life.

Another key move is to be real with friends and family about how you're feeling. It's easy to say "I'm fine," but sharing the truth builds stronger bonds and offers true support. Set aside time for self-care too - whether that’s reading, walking or just resting.

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Real Positivity vs. Toxic Positivity

Real positivity means seeing the good in bad situations without ignoring the bad. It lets you feel sad, angry, or hurt when things go wrong. This is different from toxic positivity, which forces you to act happy even when you're not.

Real positivity helps solve problems by facing them head-on.

Toxic positivity makes people hide their true feelings. It tells them to keep quiet about their struggles and pretend everything is fine. But real positivity encourages talking about and dealing with tough emotions.

It builds stronger connections with others because it's honest and open.

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How aware are you of your effect on others?

The Impact of Toxic Positivity on Mental Health

Toxic positivity can make mental health worse. It stops people from facing real feelings, causing more stress and sadness.

Research on experimental social psychology

Scientists in the field of experimental social psychology have done a lot of studies. They look into how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are shaped by their surroundings.

This includes understanding how toxic positivity affects our mental health. Some work has shown that too much positive pressure can make us feel bad about feeling sad or stressed. This kind of research helps us see why it’s crucial to accept all kinds of emotions.

These experts use tests and surveys to find out more. Their findings point out that pretending everything is fine can lead to bigger problems like stress and loneliness. Knowing this helps everyone realise the power of being true to how they really feel.

It shows the importance of support from friends and talking openly about our feelings.

The importance of acknowledging negative emotions

Feeling sad, angry, or scared tells us about what matters to us. Ignoring these feelings can lead to more trouble later. Acknowledging them helps us understand our needs and solve our problems.

It's like giving a voice to the silent parts inside of us that need attention.

Talking about these emotions with others brings us closer. It shows we're all human and it's okay not to be okay sometimes. This sharing builds stronger bonds between people. It makes everyone feel less alone in their struggles and more supported in facing them together.

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Learn how to be soft on the person yet tough on the issue

How Toxic Positivity Can Be Harmful - Conclusions

So, toxic positivity can really throw a spanner in the works when we're trying to deal with our feelings properly. It's like being told to smile through the pain, which doesn't help anyone heal or grow.

By understanding and avoiding it, folks can embrace their true emotions—both good and bad. This way, we support each other better and stay connected to what's real inside us. Embracing all feelings leads to genuine well-being and stronger connections with those around us.

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How Toxic Positivity Can Be Harmful - FAQs

1. What is toxic positivity?

Toxic positivity, it's when people insist on being positive, all the time... ignoring real feelings or problems. It's like telling someone to smile when they're actually sad.

2. Why can too much positivity be bad?

Well, if we're always told to "look on the bright side," we might not deal with our real issues. It stops us from facing reality and finding help for what's truly bothering us.

3. Can toxic positivity affect friendships?

Yes, indeed! If a friend only offers positive clichés and doesn't listen to your true feelings, you might feel alone in your struggles. Real support means acknowledging both good and bad times.

4. Does society push toxic positivity?

In many ways, yes – through social media, for example... We see posts about perfect lives and are told to just be happy; this can make us feel worse if we're not feeling great ourselves.

5. How can I avoid spreading toxic positivity?

It’s simple – listen more and acknowledge that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. Offer genuine support without dismissing others' feelings with just a "stay positive" response.

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