Filipinos are fun and happy people who always keep a smiling face in all their victories and defeats. We are known for our resiliency that despite the circumstances and challenges, we see a positive attitude as if it was an inherent trait that all Filipinos must own. Now that people are adjusting to their new normal as a result of the year-long pandemic, optimism is growing as new hurdles are overcome each day by a diverse group of people with unique experiences to tell. While it is admirable to fall and rise with a smile, we must consider how this attitude can become a maladaptive practice of avoiding genuine human feelings.
Having a positive outlook and bright attitude in life is a good practice because an individual’s perspective shifts to the good or beneficial outcome in any situation. It teaches one to appreciate the good things and to look for silver linings in bad times. Positive thinking has been found to offer a number of health advantages. Positive thinking, according to research, helps people deal with stress better and build effective coping mechanisms. People also live longer and are less likely to suffer from depression. There is a rise in physical well-being and a decrease in the chance of dying from the cardiac disease (Cherry, 2019). People are becoming sick, losing jobs, and feeling separated from the rest of the world, therefore it's more important than ever to seek positivity. Several articles have been published on the internet to offer tips, routines, and practices for keeping optimistic during the pandemic.
On the surface, maintaining a happy attitude is a good shield to protect yourself from what is going on outside your home. However, we must keep in mind that the shield's effectiveness diminishes over time, especially while fighting large and frightening opponents. We aren't always able to hide. You'll have to draw the sword and confront the opponent one day—how that's we learn and progress. This also applies to the issues we're dealing with. As humans, we are doomed to experience difficulties after problems; it is now up to us to figure out how to deal with them. We slip into the deep trap known as "Toxic Positivity" if we consistently follow the "positive vibes exclusively" approach. You may have come across the term toxic positivity at some point in your life because it exists and is used by individuals without them even realizing it.
Toxic positivity is characterized by a strong desire for people to think positively. It is the assumption that only positive thinking can solve problems, thus people are forced to shun negative thinking as if it were an illness. It necessitates a high level of positivism despite the person's difficult and terrible circumstances (Villines, 2021). The toxic optimism culture is dangerous since it silences one's feelings. It denies a person the right to be human, to feel free to express uncomfortable and negative emotions. Phrases like "look on the bright side," "everything occurs for a reason," and "happiness is a choice" are used to silence individuals and dismiss their misery (Cherry, 2021). Many people who are the breadwinners of the family were laid off during the pandemic. Should they just keep an optimistic attitude? There would be no food on the table if they did. Many people today are susceptible to poisonous positivity. Social media posts discussed how to take advantage of the situation, such as the quarantine, online learning, and social isolation. People offered “positive vibes” as a form of comfort to others who had experienced all types of losses and sadness (Wirth, 2020).
As humans, we can’t control how we feel. We are not a lightbulb; we can’t switch on and off our feelings. We should always be reminded of this certain phrase we often hear— “It’s okay not to be okay”. To address our emotions properly, we must first acknowledge them by trying not to avoid or ignore them. Also, don’t bottle up your feelings. Don’t wait for your feelings to explode when you can gently let them out one by one. It is essential to express your needs to find balance in your emotions. Furthermore, practice unconditional self-love. When you give yourself some love, you are not too hard on yourself. You allow yourself to experience emotions without having to question or judge what you feel. This will help you separate your negative emotions from your self-worth. Lastly, allow yourself to feel different kinds of emotions at once. Remember that emotions don’t have to be logical to make sense to you. You are allowed to be happy and be sad at the same time. Gratitude and pain could coexist so be honest with your emotions (Su, 2020). When we allow ourselves to feel emotions, we are pulled into the present moment. Right now, we are experiencing a crisis. By feeling our emotions and acknowledging our fear and anxiety toward the virus, we are motivated to practice social distancing and wear our masks (Scully, 2020).
To be human means to be authentic, genuine, and be connected in our emotions, and sometimes they’re not beautiful. Sometimes it is painfully beautiful or painfully ugly but feel it anyway. Sometimes, there is no bright side, yet. Not everything has a reason, they just happen as they need to. Happiness is sometimes a privilege not everyone can have immediately. Feel it anyway. Often, there is comfort in staying in uncomfortable places.
Cherry, L. (2019). What Is Behind the Psychology of Positive Thinking? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-positive-thinking-2794772
Cherry, K. (2021). Why Toxic Positivity Can Be So Harmful. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-toxic-positivity-5093958
Scully, S. M. (2020). ‘Toxic Positivity’ Is Real — and It’s a Big Problem During the Pandemic. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/toxic-positivity-during-the-pandemic
Su, E. (2020). 4 Ways to Avoid Toxic Positivity. Talkspace. https://www.talkspace.com/blog/toxic-positivity-avoiding-what-is/?__cf_chl_captcha_tk__=pmd_854fabf1c2cf9db974ccef97f652899b00e35770-1626806080-0-gqNtZGzNAuKjcnBszQii
Villines, Z. (2021). What to know about toxic positivity. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/toxic-positivity
Wirth, J. (2020). Opinion | COVID-19 brings risk of toxic positivity. The Daily Orange. http://dailyorange.com/2020/11/covid-19-brings-risk-toxic-positivity/