What is toxic positivity? Find out on August 25

by Contributed Content on August 22, 2021

“Toxic positivity” is a relatively new term that has received widespread media attention. The term confuses people because of our general assumption that we should be positive.

Toxic positivity occurs when people use or demand positive emotion or optimism in an oppressive way that diminishes or disregards legitimate and important concerns (even our own).

We must understand this process as we suffer from a convergence of serious issues in America, including overt and structural racism, political unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic, joblessness, mental illness, and climate change. These problems directly impact many among us, and even those who are not directly impacted can feel anxiety, dread, fear, guilt, anger or defensiveness at the prospect of another’s pain—uncomfortable emotions that can drive us to push away the pain.

But emotions evolved for a reason: to alert us to problems so that they could be fixed.

To address these important social and personal problems, we must face them head on and take action, even when it feels uncomfortable.

In this Menlo Park Library presentation Stephanie D. Preston, Ph.D. will clarify what is and is not toxic positivity, and how to respond more adaptively in the future—to the benefit of us all. It takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 25, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Register online.

This free event received partial funding support from the Friends of the Menlo Park Library.

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