SPIRITUAL TERMINOLOGY AND MEANINGS

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Toxic Positivity

What is toxic positivity?

The phrase toxic positivity refers to a culture of spiritual bypassing generated by the New Age community and Wellness industry. Toxic positivity involves ignoring, suppressing, minimizing, or invalidation of emotions that are perceived as negative and may also lead to avoidance of confrontation and healthy expressions of negative emotions that are natural to an authentic human experience. Toxic positivity leads to the denial and repression of emotions, stunted emotional development, and a low emotional intelligence. Prolonged practice of toxic positivity can lead to a variety of psychologically unhealthy behaviors, as well as emotional numbness, anxiety, and depression.

Symptoms of toxic positivity:

  • “Good vibes only”
  • Consistently intentionally using positive thoughts to negate, ignore, or suppress sadness, anger, depression, anxiety, and grief
  • Conflict avoidance
  • “Don’t worry, be happy”
  • “Don’t think negative thoughts”
  • Hiding or masking true emotions
  • Shaming and invalidation of others who express any emotions that are perceived as negative
  • Mislabeling others who engage in healthy expression of negative emotions as negative people and cutting them off
  • Avoiding confrontation with regard to social responsibility

Where did toxic positivity originate?

Toxic positivity originates from a overly simplistic understanding of the Law of Attraction wherein proponents believe that any recurring thoughts they have will manifest into their reality, and therefore, in order to manifest positive things, they must always think positive thoughts. This is an incorrect interpretation of the Law of Attraction. Please visit the entry on Law of Attraction for a full explanation.

The rising popularity of the Law of Attraction through books like The Power of Positive Thinking and The Secret, and popular Law of Attraction and manifestation teachers such as Abraham Hicks have widely contributed to the spread of toxic positivity and spiritual bypassing. A lack of emphasis on shadow work and its role in the manifestation process in these teachings is also a factor. Many wellness influencers and business coaches have incorporated the concept of manifestation and positive thinking into their messaging as a marketing gimmick, further popularizing these concepts and exacerbating toxic positivity culture.

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Spiritual Bypassing

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