The phenomenon of toxic positivity leaves no room for negativity. But suppressing bad feelings can be dangerous. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows. We explain why it’s important to allow bad feelings.

A permanent cheerfulness is spreading. On social media, people are showing their best side, hashtags such as #staypositive or #goodvibesonly are almost a must-have in the comment column. Always smiling, always in a good mood and posting colorful pictures – that often brings likes. And according to Quarks, people who are happy about it like to release dopamine.

At first glance, toxic positivity promises lasting happiness and therefore plenty of dopamine. In reality, however, it is the feeling of having to be cheerful or happy, even if you simply are not. What was initially only observed on social networks is now spilling over into analog life.

As with everything, happiness depends on the dose and genuineness of the feeling. For example when being with friends or trying Ivibet you can feel such happiness.


Just happy or obsessively positive? It is normal for people to strive to feel good rather than sad or angry. Resilience, i.e. the ability to get through difficult times without psychological damage, is important. According to the medical journal, optimism, which can be learned, can help to build resilience. It only becomes problematic when you want to erase bad feelings or consider them less valuable.

Compulsive positivity can come from yourself, but also from those around you. It can often lead to a fatal cycle: You feel bad and don’t get any real encouragement, but instead hear empty phrases such as “It’ll be okay” or “See the adversity as an opportunity”. This signals to you that negative feelings are not welcome. So you suppress them even more in order to be well received. The same thing can happen to people around you when they come to you with their problems. After all, you want to appear positive and strong in a crisis situation. Interpersonal communication becomes embellished and unsympathetic.


People are made up of many emotions and that is a good thing. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones is a mechanism that can help with the grieving process, writes DIE ZEIT in the article “Wer trauert, darf auch lachen”. Celebrating lots of parties with friends after a failed relationship is not toxic positivity. Nor should you immediately see well-intentioned advice as a way of undermining your feelings. However, there are warning signs that can show how dangerous toxic positivity is:

A brief distraction from bad feelings is fine. But if you never give space to your sadness or anger and think obsessively positively, this is a sign of toxic positivity. As we all know, time heals all wounds. If you don’t give yourself time, you run the risk of carrying your grief around with you unconsciously and unprocessed for years.

You see negative things as unnecessary and repulsive. Yet unpleasant feelings are sometimes useful. Fear, for example, makes you act more attentively and cautiously.

Do you feel like you have to be happy all the time? Toxic positivity creates pressure and gives you the feeling that being happy is an easy decision. So if you don’t make it, you feel like you’re failing. This makes you even unhappier.

Toxic positivity makes you lonely: Because you have the feeling (or are given the feeling) that bad feelings are unacceptable, you isolate yourself. You don’t want to be the party pooper, you don’t want to “bother” others with your problems. Yet friendships are especially important in difficult and stressful times.

According to the ÄrzteZeitung, genuine emotions are difficult to imitate. You can usually tell when the person you’re talking to is pretending. People find contradictory signals irritating. It is unsettling when a person smiles even though they are angry. They probably just want to be perceived as positive. However, they appear tense and artificial to you. As a result, you also deal with them in a more artificial way. This is how we gradually move away from genuine and lively communication.

Imagine you are pouring your heart out to someone and the person says things like “focus on the beautiful things in life”. They point to a butterfly or a dog walking by. This is toxic positivity as it is written in the book and it’s dangerous because your worries are dismissed. Such behavior makes people more insensitive.

It is often suggested to seriously ill people that they need to work on their mindset in order to get well again. This is very toxic. The ZEIT writes that there is no scientific evidence for such beliefs and that this behavior shifts the responsibility for the illness onto those affected.

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