4 Signs Those 'Positive Thinking' Quotes Are Hurting Your Mental Health (& What To Do About It)

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Why Am I Unhappy? Negative Effects Of Social Media & Toxic Positivity On Your Emotions

Studies have determined that social media can negatively impact your emotional health in more ways than you even realize, and many people react to this by eliminating negative emotions from whatever social media sites they're on. This can include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many others.

And while it might seem healthy to keep these "bad" emotions from filling up your daily feed, the opposite is actually true. What you might be doing is accidentally getting sucked into toxic positivity.

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While there is no question that happiness and positive thinking are good for your health, toxic positivity can come as a result of only seeing the filtered "good" of someone's life without any of the negatives on these social media apps.

It can also come when you don't allow yourself to feel your emotions, which will lower your overall emotional intelligence and keep you from being mentally healthy and happy.

People gobble up "good vibes only" t-shirts and plaster their homes with glittery signs that read, "think happy."

Looking on the bright side is good for your physical, mental, and emotional well being, so you cram your social media feeds with inspiring quotes and feel-good images.

So why do you feel so crummy? Why do you scroll and scroll, feeling more alone and alienated? Why does your self-esteem crumble under the weight of happy thoughts?

Why do you scold yourself when you feel anger or sadness? Why do you feel like a failure if you're struggling with doubt or grief or anger?

While positive thinking can pull you out of the dumps, positivity can also turn toxic. Being positive at all costs disconnects people from their feelings. Avoiding negative feelings can allow you to sidestep opportunities to develop courage and resilience.

Always being positive can force you to silence your voice when you’d like to speak up. In some circles, you can risk being pushed out or alienated if you dare to radiate anything but positivity and happiness.

You can easily be shamed into acting like everything is just great at the cost of dealing with your true feelings.

When someone is shamed for not choosing to be happy, they can come to question their own feelings, wondering what's wrong with them for feeling down or angry or dejected. A steady diet of ignoring or avoiding feelings can make someone unable to trust themselves. Their self-esteem crumbles.

Being told, "Just be positive," when you're struggling through a dark time makes you feel like you're a burden to others.

When you're told to "get over it" or "move on," trauma or grief cannot be resolved in a healthy manner. When you find yourself overcompensating with a guise of sweet cheerfulness so as to avoid your true feelings, it eats away at your soul, leaving you feeling alone and misunderstood.

You are meant to feel a whole rainbow of emotions. Remember those big boxes of crayons you wanted as a kid? You are meant to use all the colors, not just three!

Allowing yourself to feel "negative" emotions such as anger, loneliness, grief, confusion, or panic isn’t just healthy, it is essential.

"Negative" emotions can be used as powerful data. Ignoring these emotions can leave you stuck in relationships you’ve outgrown. It can keep you from dealing with trauma, or leave you sick.

It can force you to tolerate bad behavior from others, or alienate you from yourself.

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Here are 4 ways you can tell if your social media accounts are full of toxic positivity and what to do about it:

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1. Scroll slowly, with intention.

Notice how you feel as you scroll. Does an account make you feel wrong to not have a perfect life? Does it make you feel less-than?

2. Notice how these forced positives make you feel.

Do you find yourself wondering why you can’t be as positive as someone else? Do you think if only you could have their life, positivity would be a breeze? Do you beat yourself up for your inability to banish worry or fear or pain from your thoughts?

3. Do your social media accounts include people who avoid negative emotions?

Do you follow people who tell you that having negative thoughts, doubts, or fears will only attract more negativity into your life? That you can never find true happiness if you aren’t anything but high vibe?

This could put you into toxic positivity cycles. It's never healthy to ignore your emotions.

4. Do some of these social media accounts enforce a "no negativity" rule?

Do certain accounts or people infer that you will never get what you want in this life if you don’t have positive thoughts only?

If you find yourself answering "yes" to any of these questions, do this immediately:

  • Hide or unfollow the accounts. You can follow them later if you choose, but for now, get them off your feed.
  • Face your emotions. Learn to see the rainbow of emotions as the powerful clues they are. If something or someone makes you feel bad about yourself, rethink your choices. If you have been avoiding conflict, deal with it. If you need time to grieve, do so.
  • Find someone you can confide in. It isn’t healthy to be cheerful all the time. Others are feeling the same way. Sharing your feelings with trusted friends can spark connection: ‘You’re feeling that way? Me, too!’
  • Know that your thoughts did not bring about unfortunate circumstances. Trust that feeling down does not mean you will never find happiness in the future.
  • Set a timer. If you are just having a bad morning, set a timer for five minutes and wallow in your self-pity or anger. If you are dealing with something more painful, set a timer for a longer period of time, a week or a month or a year depending on the severity. When time is up, you can will yourself back into action mode whether it be to get counseling or reemerge from your dark room.

A ‘good vibes only’ lifestyle is toxic and crushing for your self-esteem. Instead, choose to feel the rainbow of emotions. Working through all the emotions you feel, not just the shiny, glittery ones, is the healthiest way to be positive in the long run.

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T-Ann Pierce is a transformational life coach who will help you get where you want to be as quickly and as efficiently possible. If you want to know more about how you can embrace where you are today while still moving toward your goals, contact her today.