'Tragic optimism': The antidote to toxic positivity
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Some view positivity as essential to coping with the crisis. They take the chance to slow down and reevaluate, feel grateful to still have a job while balancing school and family life.
But, this unrelenting optimism, known as toxic positivity, views negative emotions as a failure or weakness. Failing to acknowledge hardships can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.
Tragic optimism assumes there is hope and meaning to be found in life while also acknowledging the existence of loss, pain and suffering.
Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl first defined 'Tragic optimism' in 1985, and proponents maintain people can experience both the good and the bad and that we can grow from each.
Tragic optimism acknowledges the pain and suffering of our circumstances, and at the same time, the ability to maintain hope.
Tragic optimism is to accept that suffering is part of life and realise that challenges provide us with a learning moment.
Some who experience a traumatic event and have difficulty coping may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Encouraging people to be optimistic and grateful when going through tough times doesn't encourage growth beyond tragedy.
In contrast, others find trauma gives them new meaning in life. Instead of letting the negative feelings overwhelm us, we can make a daily effort to feel comfortable with negative emotions while noticing that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
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