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It’s Time to Ditch Toxic Positivity in Favor of Emotional Validation

It's Time to Ditch Toxic Positivity in Favor of Emotional Validation

It’s Time to Ditch Toxic Positivity in Favor of Emotional Validation

It seems like not a day goes by without me seeing “positive vibes only” expressed by one or more happy folks anywhere on my phone, regardless of how well I select my social feeds or dating sites. Every time I encounter that statement, I shudder, partially because it is offensive and also because I feel bad about having once been one of those offensive people It’s Time to Ditch Toxic Positivity in Favor of Emotional Validation.

Studies have repeatedly shown that being appreciation and thinking positively have a good impact on one’s life. I read countless studies about how much thinking positively can actually make for better health outcomes when I wrote “How to Be Well When You’re Not,” a wellness guide for chronically ill people filled with free and accessible tools to help people feel better. I also included numerous chapters of straightforward gratitude and positive thinking exercises for readers.

My change in perspective had a significant impact on how I handled my personal path through a half-decade of chronic disease. I took a significant step towards my physical healing when I switched from a perspective of hope and gratitude for the chance to reconstruct my life to one of rage and bitterness about being unwell. So, even after gaining wellness, I continued to think that way for years, not realising how thin the line is between trying to change things for the better and being insensitive to other people’s genuine troubles.

In recent years, we’ve learned that possibly optimistic thinking might be indulged in to an unhealthy degree. It might lead to poisonous positivity, which would be bad for our psyches. Instead, we ought to strive for emotional approval. What does all of this mean, and how can we change things? Learn more by reading on It’s Time to Ditch Toxic Positivity in Favor of Emotional Validation.

What Is Toxic Positivity?

According to Nina Vasan, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer at Real, “it frequently comes at the expense of rejecting our own sincere feelings or the feelings of others.”

Toxic positivity is not a good thing, even though positive thinking in general is. It involves pretending that nothing horrible is happening, and it may also entail making individuals feel guilty for experiencing common human emotions. According to Janika Veasley, LMFT, a professional therapist and relationship expert, “it is founded in someone’s discomfort with emotions that are regarded as negative.”

It frequently entails the risk of downplaying our own or others’ real feelings.


Toxic optimism is exemplified by phrases like “good vibes exclusively,” but there are more phrases that are representative of this destructive way of thinking. When a friend discusses something challenging they are going through, “someone practising poisonous optimism can say things like “everything occurs for a reason” or “just look on the bright side,” Vasan warns.

What Is Emotional Validation?

Toxic positivity has emotional validation as its direct opponent. But that doesn’t imply it continuously fosters and promotes negative thinking.

According to Veasley, “emotional validation” is when you take the time to comprehend, acknowledge, and learn about the emotions and experiences of the other person. Due to its denial of the reality of a person’s lived experience, poisonous positivity, as she puts it, is a type of emotional invalidation. Vasan informs us that negative emotions like grief and annoyance are suppressed by toxic positivity.

When you take the time to comprehend, accept, and learn about the emotions and experiences of the other person, you are engaging in emotional validation.


The idea of emotional validation is realising that emotions are transitory. In the event that something bad occurs in your life, you will unavoidably experience the associated emotions.

Of course, if you don’t let yourself feel all of your emotions, you won’t be able to accomplish it. You can express your emotions and stay with them for however long is necessary before moving on thanks to emotional validation. You can advance in your life by staying true to yourself.

Why Are We So Focused on Positivity, Anyway?

Even among others who had never heard of it before, toxic positivity gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many of us felt unhappy or melancholy all the time. The advice to ignore COVID and live life in spite of it did not sit well with many who had experienced the condition themselves or had lost loved ones to it. In reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, “we’ve…seen a growth in awareness regarding toxic positivity,” says Vasan.

Positive thinking is nothing new; the Beach Boys popularised the term “good vibrations” in the 1960s. But the “positive vibes only” trend, which is frequently focused on the concept of manifestation, was brought about by the growth of social media.

The fundamental message of “the law of attraction” has drawn some very vehement criticism since it ignores the amount of individuals who are born into problematic circumstances or who have challenging lives that they are unable to change. Manifesting has come to be viewed by many as a concept for privileged individuals because the majority of people are unable to imagine their way out of poverty or illness.

Social media reinforces the idea that manifestation happens through “positive vibes” by showing prosperous people—who are mostly White—in settings like on holidays at the beach or in posh shops. When individuals talk about manifestation, we only see the positive results because social media is one-dimensional; we don’t see the effort or process that goes into it. This portrayal of manifestation omits the crucial middle stage of actually acting on the belief, Veasley warns.

When individuals talk about manifestation, we only see the positive results because social media is one-dimensional; we don’t see the effort or process involved.


Practicing Emotional Validation

Invalidating ourselves and the people we care about is toxic positivity. It pushes us to exclusively think positively, which can prevent us from processing the emotions we need to cope with. Emotional affirmation is a healthier choice for you and the people you care about. Fortunately, it’s not at all challenging to do.

Step 1: Stop and Think

Your first inclination could be to reply immediately away when someone shares a difficult situation with you or when you have just received bad news of your own. We have a natural tendency to want to reassure the people we care about, so we may quickly say things like “all will be OK” or “there might be a bright side to this.”

It seems sense to take a moment instead because that could not be the message that the person needs to hear. Before responding to someone, Vasan advises taking a moment to pause and think.

The most important step, according to Veasley, is to start acknowledging our own bad feelings and how we feel at the time they arise. She continues, “When we can recognise and accept our own feelings, we can start to do that with others.

Step Two: Acknowledge Emotions

The next step to avoiding poisonous optimism is simply to acknowledge the truth of the emotions at play after you’ve heard what you’re being told. ” The simplest way to do this is to remark, “I understand you’re terribly sorry, “elucidates Vasan She advises against trying to ignore uncomfortable feelings.

Step Three: Be Supportive

Offer words and thoughts of support instead of asking someone to see the bright side or pushing yourself to merely push aside your unpleasant emotions. Vasan advises letting someone express how they are truly feeling and doing. You should “urge them to be honest and reflect back that it takes intelligence and strength to do this,” the speaker advises.


You run the risk of slipping into toxic positivity if you make assumptions about someone else or tell them how you believe they should feel. Instead than presuming we know how someone is doing, Vasan advises that we “ask follow-up questions to better understand how they are responding to a scenario.”

Step Four: Validate

The third step is simple: You need to give meaning to the feelings that are being experienced. There are validating comments that can be employed and which are favourably received by a lot of people. “That seems incredibly hard,” “I can see why you’d feel that way,” “I feel the same way,” or even “I’m here for you” are examples of such statements.

Tell someone you understand what they are going through and that you are available to help them however they need it.


As for you, keep in mind that you are facing a difficulty as a result of your current circumstances. It’s something you must go through, and that will take time. Whatever you’re experiencing right now is only fleeting, and allowing yourself to feel it will help you get past it.

A Word From WinAspire

You probably know someone who dismisses your bad experiences by saying things like, “You should try to find the bright side,” or “You’re too sensitive.” Toxic optimism has become very common. Recognize that this can be invalidating behaviour and that all of your feelings, no matter what they are, are legitimate.