As a counsellor who uses positive psychology at the centre of my work with young people, it might be a surprise to some that I am choosing to write about toxic positivity. This is one of the common myths that surrounds positive psychology, which I like to define in layman’s terms, the study of what is going well. This is not mutually exclusive with acknowledging the negative feelings and situations we are experiencing, it is in spite of them. For example, practicing mindfulness and gratitude is scientifically proven to lead to increased levels of subjective wellbeing and even longer life, yet neither of these practices are aimed to change the negative circumstances around us. The struggles in our lives are meant to be acknowledged, but it doesn’t have to stop there, which is where positive psychology steps in. But when does realistic optimism become toxic positivity and how can you avoid it? Read this article from Very Well Mind to find out.
While we navigate the fifth wave of the pandemic in Hong Kong, and try to ease the inevitable questions that our children have, it is imperative to remember that it’s ok to sit with unpleasant feelings. It is ok to say, “This is hard.” It is far better than sweeping things under the rug under the false pretence of positivity.