5 toxic beliefs that have been normalized by society

We all hold certain beliefs, but sometimes, these beliefs are cloaked in a toxicity that has been subtly, yet harmfully, normalized by our collective society.

You might look around and find yourself questioning if some of the things you’ve been taught to believe are truly healthy, or if they’re damaging mantras that have been unfairly ingrained into our consciousness.

How do you know if what you’ve internalized is genuinely toxic, or simply a part of the diverse spectrum of human belief?

After thoughtful examination of societal norms and the beliefs we hold dear, I’ve compiled a list of five toxic beliefs that have become tragically mainstream.

If these strike a chord with you, it may be time to reevaluate and potentially liberate yourself from these harmful beliefs. 

1. “Success is Measured by Wealth and Status”

From an early age, we are subtly taught that success equates to wealth and status.

This belief is perpetuated by societal norms, media portrayals, and even our educational systems.

We equate luxury cars, large homes, and high-power jobs with success, and often look down on those who don’t fit this mould.

But let’s pause and reflect. Is this belief healthy? Does it promote happiness or contentment? Or does it lead us down a path of endless striving, constant comparison, and perpetual dissatisfaction?

The truth is, this belief is toxic. It negates the importance of personal fulfillment, emotional health, and the simple joys of life.

It creates a society where worth is measured by materialistic achievements rather than the richness of one’s character or the kindness in one’s heart.

If you find yourself trapped in this cycle of equating success with wealth and status, take a step back.

Reflect on what truly matters to you – perhaps it’s family, meaningful relationships, personal growth or contributing positively to your community.

Redefining success on your own terms can be the first step towards liberating yourself from this toxic societal belief. 

2. “Vulnerability is a Sign of Weakness”

As a society, we often uphold the idea that showing emotions, especially those associated with pain or struggle, is a sign of weakness.

We’re taught to ‘keep a stiff upper lip’, ‘be strong’, and ‘never let them see you cry’.

But let’s pause for a moment. Is this belief nurturing? Does it encourage emotional intelligence or resilience? Or does it simply breed a culture of emotional suppression, leading to anxiety, depression, and a lack of genuine human connection?

In reality, this belief is toxic. It undermines the power of vulnerability and the strength it takes to openly express our emotions.

It negates the fact that we are humans, not robots, and that experiencing a range of emotions – both positive and negative – is a natural part of our existence.

If you find yourself concealing your true feelings for fear of appearing weak, it’s time to reconsider this belief.

Recognize that being vulnerable isn’t synonymous with weakness; on the contrary, it’s an act of courage and authenticity.

Challenging this toxic societal norm can be transformative in fostering deeper connections with others and building greater self-awareness.

3. “Busy is Better”

In our fast-paced, productivity-driven society, we often glorify being busy.

We wear our packed schedules as badges of honor, and equate free time with laziness.

Let me share a personal experience. For years, I found myself caught in the whirlwind of constant busyness.

My calendar was always full, my to-do list never-ending. I believed that this was the path to success, to being valued and respected.

But soon, exhaustion set in. My health suffered, my relationships strained, and ironically, my productivity dropped.

Taking a step back, I began to question this belief. Was it truly beneficial? Did it promote well-being or balance? Or did it simply create a cycle of stress and burnout?

I realized that this belief is toxic. It ignores the importance of rest and self-care and the role they play in maintaining our physical and mental health.

It forgets that we are human beings, not human ‘doings’, and that taking time for ourselves isn’t laziness – it’s essential.

If you find yourself stuck in the ‘busy is better’ trap, I invite you to join me in challenging this belief.

Remember that it’s okay – more than okay – to slow down, to relax, to simply ‘be’.

4. “Perfection is Attainable”

Perfection – the ultimate standard we’re told to strive for. Whether it’s our looks, our grades, our jobs, or our relationships, we’re constantly bombarded with the idea that anything less than perfect is inadequate.

In 1950, social psychologist Solomon Asch conducted an experiment to understand conformity.

He found that individuals changed their answers to align with a group’s incorrect response nearly 37% of the time, illustrating our inherent desire to fit in and be ‘perfect’.

But let’s consider this: Is perfection truly achievable? Does it encourage growth and acceptance? Or does it merely fuel self-doubt, anxiety, and unrealistic expectations?

This belief is toxic. It overlooks the beauty of our flaws and the lessons learned from our mistakes. It ignores the fact that we are human – beautifully imperfect and constantly evolving.

If you find yourself striving for the unattainable ideal of perfection, take a moment to reflect.

Embrace your imperfections as unique aspects of who you are and celebrate your growth.

5. “Failure is Unacceptable”

In many aspects of our lives, we are taught that failure is something to be feared and avoided at all costs.

We’re trained to see it as the ultimate defeat, a mark of inadequacy that tarnishes our record and shames us into silence.

I once held a job that I was incredibly passionate about. I put in countless hours, poured my heart and soul into my work, only to be laid off due to company-wide cuts.

At first, I saw myself as a failure. I was embarrassed, devastated, and questioned my own abilities.

But then I paused. Was this belief serving me? Did it fuel growth or resilience? Or did it merely perpetuate a fear of taking risks and stifling innovation?

I came to realize that this belief was toxic. It dismissed the reality that failure is a natural part of life, an invaluable teacher that provides us with unique opportunities to grow and learn.

If you’ve ever experienced failure and found yourself swallowed by shame or embarrassment, I urge you to reframe your perception.

Consider each failure as a stepping stone on the path to success, an opportunity for learning and improvement.

Letting go of the fear of failure can be liberating, opening doors to new possibilities and fostering a culture of resilience and innovation.




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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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