Toxic Positivity is not All in the Mind, but in the Flawed Model

Toxic Positivity is not All in the Mind, but in the Flawed Model

Toxic positivity is the pressure to stay upbeat despite dire circumstances, which prevents us from feeling natural emotions.  But are emotions natural, and should we let them all hang out?  Author Paul Friedman believes emotions are a byproduct of the body’s drive to survive, like a defense mechanism.  Moreover, he advances the position that a transcendent state exists, which is above the mind and body, and that is the natural state of the soul: unconditional love.  It’s beyond emotion.

So, when faced with negativity, do we want to feel depressed, which is, for instance, the so-called natural state of someone ill-treated, or do we want to feel joy, regardless of external circumstances?  What do we want in life: to be happy or depressed?  As we all have free will, it’s a choice, and I choose happiness.  The definition of toxic positivity rejects the notion of happiness as a choice, but if it’s not a choice, does that mean whatever emotion stirs, we run with it?  As informed by the theory of Paul Friedman, not acting on our best behavior by choosing an adverse reaction is a recipe for toxic relationships, not toxic positivity.

So, why is toxic positivity even a consideration in Western thinking?  The psychological curriculum defines the role of the mind and body (driven by survival) but fails to acknowledge the soul (which is part of that taboo topic of spirituality or, stated differently, the possibility of existence beyond this lifetime).  So, the psychology curriculum defines the mind and body but forgets the part of us that is eternal: the soul or, as stated earlier, unconditional love.

Furthermore, the toxic positivity model is constructed based on assumptions that are neither universal nor necessarily correlated.  Just like no one is inherently bad, every construct or model, however it is framed, is imperfect.  Models are merely a representation not of reality but a perceived reality.  Moreover, I believe the aim should be to create models that bring us closer to a love for all and not a judgment of others.

Anything can be judged negatively, whether Mother Teresa, religion, chocolate cake, money, fame, beauty, childbirth—or positivity.  My mom once said that my brother informed her of the negatives of Christianity, and she sounded swept away by his views.  However, I told her that anyone can look at anything from infinite angles, both positive and negative, but it’s vital to remain cautious of which lens we choose.

For instance, YouTube clips of couples labeling one another narcissists dominate my relationship feed.  Women or men can be quick to label their spouses as narcissists as soon as conflict arises, as they don’t have the tools yet to provide selfless, unconditional love void of expectations.  Similarly, people with mental illnesses are, in my view, often depicted as monsters in psychology class; however, the label and its connotations are indeed misrepresentations that bind people to certain socio-economic outcomes, despite the mental health condition being less futile or regressive than depicted and potentially productive and beneficial, especially in terms of creativity, imagination, and intelligence.

Considering all this, nobody should be judged by a label.  Flaws are growth opportunities.  Labeling, on the other hand, is a chain, whether the label is good or bad, whether a gold or iron chain, as both bind us as its servants.  Labeling someone as having toxic positivity may cause many to reject seeking a state of continuous happiness, which is everyone’s birthright if we learn to control our minds, according to Friedman.

Let’s examine an example of a flaw in the toxic positivity model.  The construct of toxic positivity says people may coerce others into being positive by manipulating them.  Regarding expectations, I believe it’s right to expect myself to be positive but expect nothing from others.  Instead, I should appreciate who they are: love them for all they are, including their flaws.  The toxic positivity model does not capture this expectation of ideal behavior from oneself without any expectations of others, which points out that many models are biased with omissions and assumptions that are not universal but perhaps even dependent on the prevailing thinking.  Mainstream prevailing thought, too, is imperfect and can be derived from political, power-motivated, financial, or other self-interested agendas.  However, I believe the goal in life is to arrive at a state of love for all.  If love for everyone isn’t strictly positive, what is?

I believe every true prophet, guru, and saint loves everyone unconditionally, whether the person is Jewish Arabic, white, black, or any other identity.  Pure, unbelievable love is the state up there, according to near-death experiences.  And as long as we’re in the human realm, we will be imperfect.  So, instead of labeling one another, we must grow from it all toward a state of unconditional love.  That’s the ideal state of positivity, and there’s nothing toxic about unconditional love in its purest expression.  Pure, selfless, universal, unconditional love, in its ideal state, may be the only state free of the slightest trace of toxicity.