Toxic Positivity Is A Real Thing
See the good in everything.
It could be worse.
This too shall pass
Just be positive.
All well intended ideas but how do we effectively problem solve or respond appropriately to circumstances in our life that are causing discomfort and difficult emotions if we don’t deal with them as we truly are experiencing them. Clearly, as a women’s empowerment coach, I’m a big fan of the power of positivity. But when it comes at the cost of denying us the opportunity to be real and honest with ourselves, positivity winds up becoming toxic in nature, detracting and harmful to our growth because we’re not operating in a world as we really are experiencing it, rather as we wish it to be. Preventing us from having those hard conversations with ourselves and others.
I understand people have the best of intentions and want to be a source of light and levity and not feel painful emotions but right now given the collective trauma we’re all experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic, toxic positivity seems to be more problematic than ever. It’s alarming and I’m seeing its impact on my clients big time; judging themselves for why they aren’t “feeling it”, beating themselves up for not aggressively pursuing their goals, wondering why they are waking up anxious more days then not and easily overwhelmed. Sure, we are all acclimating and adapting to “Covid Life” but that requires a tremendous amount of energy. We are working on low reserves. Now more than ever false, forced positivity is not the way to go, it only adds to our feelings of distress by putting an additional pressure on ourselves to appear ok, denying us the support we actually need to effectively cope with what we are experiencing.
I’m not suggesting we throw in the towel nor resign or brood over our negative emotions but if I hear one more person chalk up their distress with “it could be worse”, I might just snap, because hell yeah it can always be worse but that’s not the point. Acknowledging and verbalizing our difficult emotions releases the hold they have on us while give us greater clarity on how to best support ourselves.
Whether it be your partner telling you to look on the bright side, a friend repeatedly sharing how much fun they are having even during the pandemic, a meme instructing you to “Choose Happiness”, or you’re feeling you should just be grateful for what you have and only have a positive mindset, remember toxic positivity is a real thing. If you’re not feeling it, avoid the urge to play along, as uncomfortable as it is to express negative emotions they offer us valuable information, allowing us to make decisions that will help us feel better in the long run. So we can then chose to put into place those strategies and “life” tools to build our capacity and claim our potential.
Encouraging Everyone To Keep It Real