There are 380 million recipes for banana bread on Google, and even though we have all attempted the most popular eight recipes on the first page, we have yet to master the art of it. There must be some form of study on the shortage of bananas around the world, because let’s face it, almost everyone around the world was buying bananas – and facemasks, and sanitizers, and toilet paper for some reason – to satisfy them just until quarantine ends in April.
What a joke that was! So, we kept on baking and trying new recipes until we couldn’t stand the sight or smell of bananas anymore. All the plans have been canceled, trips have been rescheduled, Zoom University* was set into place, and suddenly our bedrooms have turned into our home office. ‘Excuse me, Mrs. Amal, I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m done changing my bedsheets.’ The world turned upside down, and it was not an easy transition for everyone.
Anxiety and restlessness were heightened like never before, and no amount of positive thoughts or encouragement could make this any better. Even though we have all at some point tried to only see the silver lining in what’s happening, it was almost impossible to sustain a positive mindset amidst a pandemic.
Sometimes, and more often than not, being overly optimistic and positive does far more harm than good. This is known as toxic positivity
Sometimes, and more often than not, being overly optimistic and positive does far more harm than good. This is known as toxic positivity, and it is very much real and very daunting. Psychologist and Associate Professor Jamies Mendoza walked us through what toxic positivity is and why it’s dangerous especially during a pandemic.
“Toxic Positivity is the suggestion that you should always appear to have a positive attitude, and that no matter what you should always express positivity and joy, and that everything should be fine as long as you ‘think positive’, so stop complaining when things don’t work out,” said Mendoza.
In this respect, being overly positive can be counterproductive and harmful to one’s mental health. Because repeatedly reiterating and saying that “everything is okay” when everything definitely isn’t, is toxic positivity, especially during these unprecedented times.
Every month this year there has been a catastrophe of some sort. From fires and climate change, to a worldwide pandemic, to fighting for civil rights. Hearing of these incidents, let alone living through them, is very emotionally draining. Hence, it is very important to fully feel the emotions we are experiencing.
It is great to always strive to see a positive outlook. However, in this pandemic as professor Mendoza reiterated, “the idea that you must always think positively can actually make you vulnerable to catching COVID-19, we must distinguish between optimism and toxic positivity.”
Motivational speaker Paul Krimser talked about the importance of allowing room for negative emotions. “The scientific evidence is clear that happiness has all kinds of benefits, so of course we should strive to live a happy life. But at the same time, there are many good evolutionary benefits to negative emotions. For instance, fear moves us away from danger, sadness teaches us what we value and need to protect, and shame corrects negative behaviors so that we remain socially attached, which is a vital survival mechanism,” said Krismer.
Overpromising positive and rainbow-filled emotions can backfire and can often cause disappointment and anger
Overpromising positive and rainbow-filled emotions can backfire and can often cause disappointment and anger. Hence, it is important to not undermine or invalidate any emotions. If today you feel like wallowing in your sadness while eating ice cream and binging 90s mosalsalat, then so be it. But if tomorrow you feel like trying recipe number 9 on the second page of Google and baking banana bread, then so be it. Either way, do not force any emotions or feelings; feel what you feel, and allow room for some more!