top of page
  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Is There Such A Thing As Toxic Positivity?

The short answer is yes.

What Is Toxic Positivity?

The Psychology Group defines toxic positivity as “the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations. The process of toxic positivity results in the denial, minimization, and the invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.” (See their Toxic Positivity table below and feel free to share it).

Although we at strongly believe in the power of positivity we do recognize that when positivity is used to cover up or silence the human experience, it tends to become toxic. By denying the existence of critical thoughts, feelings and emotions, we may be setting ourselves up to fall into a negative state of repression, which can be a tipping point leading towards depression.

Let’s face it: as humans we are all flawed. We do suffer the ignominy of jealousy, anger, resentment, worthlessness, inadequacy and greed. And so we must face up to it that life can be overwhelming, painful and insufficient. So let’s not pretend that it’s all about the positive vibes or good vibes only; let’s not deny the validity of the genuine human experience.

Why Is Toxic Positivity Harmful?

Toxic positivity takes positive thinking to an extreme by not only putting optimism on a pedestal, but also, by denying human emotion. It can become a form of shaming as it sends a signal that our feelings are wrong. It can also cause guilt that somehow we are "broken" and need to "fix" how we are feeling.

There are also subtle signs that can bubble up when friends, family and colleagues expect us to "get over" something, brush off problems and to leave our personal matters at the door when we come into work; that we need to put on that smile and muscle through.

Are You Suffering From Toxic Positivity?

Top 5 Signs of Toxic Positivity

There are many telltale signs that one is approaching Toxic Positivity, including these top five:

• Feeling guilty for your emotional state

• Shaming others for their positivity

• Denying how you are truly feeling

• Minimizing the experience

• Hiding behind the veil of perspective

How to Overcome Toxic Positivity

There are workarounds to escape Toxic Positivity. Trust that your emotions play a critical role in your life and or recovery. Accepting difficult emotions serves as a coping mechanism, and decreases the intensity of those feelings. Recognize that acceptance when you talk about how hard your day was, or how you are having difficulty with your medical treatment, with your caregiver, partner, parent, friends or family. It’s important to relieve yourself, to get things off your chest, especially those negative vibes. It’s like lifting a weight from your shoulders, even if it’s more difficult than pretending everything is fine.

Emotions are not all positive or all negative. Instead, think of them as guardrails: They do help us make sense of life. If you’re sad about leaving your primary care team, it probably means that experience was meaningful, successful and reassuring. If you feel anxiety about entering the post active treatment stage, it probably means you are concerned about recurrence and or how you are perceived by others.

Feelings are not only a way for our mind to clue us into what’s happening; they also help communicate information to those around us. If we are sad, it may attract comfort. If we convey guilt, it helps the call for forgiveness.

While it may be beneficial to try to look on the bright side of things and find the silver lining in life’s myriad experiences, it’s important to also acknowledge and listen to our emotions when they aren’t as pleasant. No one can be a ray of sunshine all the time; as humans we just don’t work that way. In fact, paying attention and processing your emotions as they come and go may help you better understand yourself, and enable those around you to help you even more.


Recent Posts

See All


Meditation Mondays:

Chakra Chanting with Gloria

Mondays at 10:00 a.m. ET 


Thursday Night Thrivers:

All Stages Support Group

Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Support Group

First and third Thursdays

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET



Thursday Night Thrivers:

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Support Group

Second Thursday

of the month at 7:00 p.m. ET


Tuesday Night Thrivers

Después de un Diagnóstico:

Grupo de Apoyo en Español

2do y Cuarto Martes de cada mes 

7:00 p.m. ET


Encourage and Empower

For Newly Diagnosed

September 10, 11:00 a.m. ET


Breast Cancer Book Club

The first Sunday of the month


Brain Spotting

May 27,  6:00 p.m. ET


Qi Gong

May 28,  11:30 a.m. ET


Art Therapy

June 3, 6:00 p.m. ET


Forest Bathing

Jun 4,  6:00 p.m. ET


Reflect & Recharge

Expressive Writing

June 10,  6:00 p.m. ET


Yoga Fitness with Chair Assist

June 11, 11:30 a.m. ET


Yoga Stretching for DIEP flap

June 11,  6:00 p.m. ET


Restorative Yoga:

Unearthing Opportunities

June 17 ,  5:30 p.m. ET


Más eventos en español


Upcoming Events


Surviving Breast Cancer provides breast cancer support, events, and webinars at no cost to you! Whether you are looking to gain more knowledge on a particular topic or meet up with other breast cancer survivors, we have something for everyone. 


Our standing appointment on Thursdays is for all stages. We also host specific breakout groups once a month for specific stages and subtypes such as Metastatic breast cancer, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer, etc. 


The Book Club meets the first Sunday of every month at 11 am ET. You are welcome to join each month or pick and choose your month based on your availability and the book we are reading. 


Through art, writing, and other creative modalities, we hold the power to manage our stress, make sense of our now, and relax into moments of stillness. 


Free, monthly, online classes in restorative yoga, yoga for breast cancer, and Zumba. 


Después de un Diagnóstico

bottom of page