Toxic Positivity: Helpful or Harmful?

Toxic positivity is rooted in a whole lot of denial. “Smile and pretend.” Being “positive” isn’t a virtue when you deny reality and minimize your own (or someone else’s) emotions or suffering.

For years, I felt so much shame for the areas where I secretly suffered. I felt overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, and stuck. But I couldn’t talk about it because that would have made me ungrateful. After all, I deserved nothing more than Hell, so who was I to complain? “Total depravity of man” on steroids. A twisted, distorted view of humility and sacrifice.

“Toxic positivity is the act of avoiding, suppressing, or rejecting negative emotions or experiences. This may take the form of denying your own emotions or someone else denying your emotions, insisting on positive thinking instead. Although setting aside difficult emotions is sometimes necessary temporarily, denying negative feelings long term is harmful because it can prevent people from processing their emotions and overcoming their distress.” – Toxic Positivity, Psychology Today

Yesterday, we celebrated the 4th of July where the theme of the day was freedom. But there is still a lot of bondage remaining in our country…even in many of our churches…perhaps in each of our own minds. These days, I am committed to seeking God’s face daily – to asking Him to uncover every area of fear, dysfunction, and bondage in my life, and thoroughly heal me.

Things aren’t always as they seem behind closed doors. Over the last year or so, I have heard so many heartbreaking stories of hidden abuse and tragedy, I could cry a thousand tears. And that may be necessary. But Jesus is the balm we all need. The Jehovah Rapha. The God who heals. The Jesus who sets the captives free.

Still, Truth comes before freedom. And I want this for all of us: freedom from lies, freedom from ungodly coercion, freedom from condemnation, freedom from legalism, freedom from abuse,  freedom from shame, and freedom from hidden idolatry. How about you?

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Stacy McDonald, Author of Truth Drops
Picture of Stacy D. McDonald

Stacy D. McDonald

Christian author, blogger, and trauma survivor, Stacy McDonald, gets real about her own painful struggles with toxic thoughts and dysfunctional thinking. After seeking help from a licensed Christian therapist, she finally began to unravel and examine the irrational fears, painful memories, and unhealthy thought patterns that had become entrenched in her mind during her own difficult and complex childhood.

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