Why the ‘good vibes only’ culture is making our teenagers life miserable. It is Okay to be sad sometimes. It is absolutely okay to not chase happiness all the time. It is not the toxic negativity but toxic positivity, which is one of the leading causes of depression in our youth.
Let’s not fool ourselves any longer
Positive thinking is sold as a path to freedom. Teenagers are often forced to asked to “change their perception to change their mind” when things go wrong. There is a constant hammering of “look on the bright side”; “smile and you will be happy”. These hollow chestnuts shame anyone who can’t muster positivity in times of distress.
We can’t have ‘good vibes’ all the time
During the pandemic, we have noticed a resurgence of the “good vibes only” culture: the one where if you express anything other than positivity, you’re negative, emitting bad vibes and dragging everyone else down. Everyone was forcing it – government, religion, influencers – and our teenagers got trapped in toxic positivity
It is counterproductive
Toxic positivity has much deeper and darker roots. At its core, toxic positivity is a form of gaslighting. It tells people that what they’re feeling isn’t real, they’re making it up and that they’re the only ones who feel this way.
While neither extreme – chronic positivity nor chronic negativity – is helpful,
It forces us to suppress emotions, which can be destructive for our physical and mental health. It also impacts our relationships. Despite good intentions, and instead of simply listening and showing empathy, we often just make the person feel silenced and ashamed.
Do not look the other way
Our teenagers need our support and they also need to be told that life is a mixed bag of different feelings – negative and positive. Keeping ourselves in dark doesn’t help. We have to stand up and recognise some hard realities of life.
We should not perpetuate the “happy housewife” myth, instead recognise gender inequality and work towards a more balanced society. We should encourage healthy eating and a healthier lifestyle instead of telling everyone they should just love the skin they’re in.
Pandemic has left us with a lot of challenges to deal with – toxic positivity is one of them that needs to be dealt with smartly. Our teenagers shouldn’t become a victim of this privileged attitude.