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Defining 'toxic positivity' and what it means for your mental health: You Are Not Alone

You've likely seen this type of thinking in your daily life, but maybe never knew how to define it. This is your answer.

CLEVELAND — After a hard day, we tend to scroll through social media for things that make us laugh, a distraction or some sort of reassurance. Clinical Therapist Adam Qin shares the thought behind why -- and it's called toxic positivity.

“Toxic Positivity, essentially, is an avoidance strategy," he says. "They’re trying to avoid their own true feelings, and other person’s true feelings." 

You may experience toxic positivity in the following ways:

  • A strive for perfection: When you tell someone that you’re trying to reach a goal and feel discouraged to continue and tell you to “keep going and hustle harder.”
  • A denial of emotions: When we’re feeling sad but try not to think about it.

So why do we do this?

“When people are going through painful things or feelings, they don’t want to suffer through that, they choose this denial to avoid this kind of feeling," Qin says. “So what they chose is -- instead of admitting it or embracing it or accept this is reality -- they think why can’t I just be positive?”

Luckily, the topic is becoming more widely discussed. Northeast Ohio moms Jeri Steinmetz and Ciara Herron recently started the podcast and vlog “Ladies and Tangents." In a recent episode, the duo discussed the topic of toxic positivity.

RELATED: 4 warning signs of eating disorders parents should watch for and how to get help: You Are Not Alone

Steinmetz says the podcast was started at a time in both the women's lives where life just became a lot to take.

“After graduation, we were both battling being people, experiencing life as being moms and people trying to find their purpose in life, and experiencing a world that we kind of felt lied to about?" she says. "When you’re growing up, things are kind of sugar-coated and they’re presented to you like, 'Oh my gosh, things used to be bad but its better now!'"

"Don’t worry about it! We fixed it," Herron adds.

Steinmetz is a certified intervention specialist, while Herron is studying psychology. They both say buying into toxic positivity can lead to depression and burnout. But the key to understanding where it comes from is actually removing yourself from the picture.

To listen to the Ladies and Tangents podcast, click here. It can be found wherever you get your podcasts.

You can also watch it on YouTube, and follow them on Facebook.

RELATED: Caring for our caregivers and helping with nurse burnout during COVID: 'You Are Not Alone' series with 3News' Hollie Strano