I recently read an article about teachers and toxic positivity. It gives the following definition, “Toxic positivity is when we focus on the positive and reject, deny, or displace the negative. In theory, it sounds like being optimistic, but in reality, pushing aside our unpleasant emotions only make them bigger.”
Certainly, this is an issue in many organizations right now not just education, but in reality, it’s nothing new. When organizations tell their employees to take time for self-care but continue to load them with more duties and responsibilities or hang a “teacher strong” or “we got this” banner in the hallway but won’t pay for enough copy paper and toner for people to do their jobs. You know, just ignore the negative and focus on the positive.
In many organizations, the cultural expectation can be to always present a positive attitude and to treat stress as a badge of honor. Like being able to say that my job only made me cry once this week is some type of accomplishment. Yes, it is important to not become overly cynical and negative, but it is just as important to not ignore the negative emotions and the causes behind them.
In The Mandt System, we encourage people to increase awareness of their emotions. When we try to repress or destroy our emotions, those emotions will often build and then be expressed in ways that damage relationships and are harmful to ourselves and/or others. Finding ways to both celebrate the positive but also acknowledge and deal with the negative is crucial to our emotional, psychological, and physical health.
Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt System Faculty
You can access the full article at this link.
Here’s another article on toxic positivity from Psychology Today.