As a kid, whenever I got all excited and my voice reached its peak, I’d always be bombarded with a chorus of “calm down.” Seriously, I had a loud voice, especially when I was hyped, but instead of embracing it, everyone treated it like some kind of issue. “Tone it down,” they’d say. “Quiet down,” they’d demand. And if I dared to express my dislike for something, oh boy, it was always seen as an overreaction. “It’s not that serious,” they’d dismissively claim. I couldn’t be too excited, too happy, too angry, or even too in love. Apparently, I couldn’t like a guy too intensely either—I was labeled as too persistent.

Over time, I learned to suppress my feelings and put on a chill facade. I became so chill that people started mistaking me for an emotionless being. But you know what? It wasn’t until much later that I realized I was just passionate. My emotions ran deep, and when they surfaced, they overflowed with intensity. However, this act of suppressing my feelings became the breeding ground for what we call Toxic Positivity. I ended up pretending to be okay, closing off my emotions from the world. Initially, it seemed like the right way to handle things. I thought I could keep what I felt to myself and avoid addressing it. Little did I know, this approach led to unresolved issues and long-lasting pain that festered within me for years. I found myself getting upset about things that happened in the past simply because I never confronted them when they occurred. And when I finally mustered the courage to address them, what did I hear? Comments like “Are you still mad about that?” or “Just let it go.” It made me feel like my feelings weren’t valid, as if I should keep them locked away in the deepest corners of my being.

Toxic Positivity is all about pretending to be okay when you’re anything but. You suffer silently, feeling as though no one cares or understands you. It leaves you feeling invalidated. So, when someone asks you the obligatory “How are you doing?” and you respond with a forced “fine,” deep down, you know it’s a lie. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the problem at that very moment, but that doesn’t mean you should pretend everything is hunky-dory. I’ve come to realize that allowing your true feelings to fester only prolongs the pain.

The key is to stop suppressing your emotions and face them head-on. Sit with them, let them wash over you. For me, that’s the only way to make them go away. I vividly remember a situation from a few years back when I was furious at a friend for not inviting me to a get-together. I chose not to bring it up because I didn’t want to start a pointless argument over something trivial. So, I plastered a smile on my face and pretended everything was cool. But deep inside, that nagging feeling of being left out was gnawing at me. That’s when I decided to take a detox bath, allowing the warm water and my favorite music to create a calming atmosphere. As I soaked, I let myself dwell on the issue. And there, at that moment, I whispered to myself, “I’m so damn irritated that she didn’t invite me.” It was like a dam bursting, and suddenly, I began questioning myself. Did I really feel like going? Did I even like the people attending? Did I have any interest in the chosen restaurant? The truth hit me hard—most of my answers were a resounding “no.” I realized that my anger stemmed from not being invited to an event I didn’t even want to be a part of. That feeling of being left out evaporated in an instant.

Sometimes, all it takes is sitting with your emotions and allowing yourself to explore their depths. It’s during those moments of self-reflection that you can untangle the web of emotions and discover what you’re truly feeling. In my case, my anger triggered a sense of rejection. Yet, as I sorted through my emotions, I realized that those feelings weren’t rooted in reality. Yes, our emotions are valid, but sometimes the reasons behind them are flimsy at best.

And here’s the kicker: we shouldn’t be afraid of upsetting others. I know I’ve suppressed countless feelings because I didn’t want to spark arguments or upset the other person. But guess what? When the tables turned, they had no qualms about expressing their own emotions. It’s crucial to have healthy, constructive conversations even if they might lead to conflict. I know it sounds contradictory, but it’s the truth. We’ve all heard the saying, “We can agree to disagree.” That means we can express ourselves to others and make our points known, even if it might cause some temporary friction. Ultimately, both parties will gain a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives.

So, my friend, the only way to overcome your feelings is to face them head-on. Don’t let Toxic Positivity consume you. Embrace your emotions, sit with them, and work through them. It’s the path toward healing and growth.

Love, Sunshyne