Hello Dazzle! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I want to talk about the idea of Toxic Positivity. Toxic positivity involves dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false reassurances rather than empathy. It’s false reassurance like saying “everything happens for a reason” or “everything will work out” or “look for the silver lining.” Truth of the matter is that there isn’t always a reason, things don’t always work out and there isn’t always a silver lining. These kinds of statements deny the reality that human suffering exists and as a result dismiss the emotions that a person is feeling.
These kinds of comments are often well-intentioned and might seem comforting but they can cause alienation and a feeling of disconnection. They deny the person the space to have their feelings and to openly express them with you. They close the pathway to intimacy with others. Most of the time, these kinds of statements result in the conversation ending or the topic being changed rather then the person opening up to you and expressing their emotions. The end result is that we experience more shallow relationships with others when we embrace Toxic Positivity.
It is important to understand that Toxic Positivity comes from feeling uncomfortable with negatively perceived emotions. When you don’t know what to say or how to behave in response to what someone else is sharing with you, it is all too easy to reach for one of these empty reassurances. But it’s alright if you don’t know what to say or how to help. In the end, it is more supportive to just admit that to the other person. Try saying “Wow, I don’t know what to say” or “That’s a lot. How can I help you right now?” These kinds of statements are more honest and leave the door open for continued conversation.
If you are the one sharing the difficult news, you can stop toxic positivity by clarifying what you want from your conversation partner. Let them know that you just need emotional support and aren’t looking for advice. If there are specific things that you think will help you through this difficult time, let them know that. It’s alright to tell people that you could use a hug or some time just sitting quietly together. When you tell others what would be most helpful when you are struggling, you are more likely to get the kind of support that you need.
Let yourself feel your feelings, and let others share theirs without needing to fix them. While sitting with our emotions or the emotions of others can be uncomfortable, it is an essential part of processing how we are feeling. If we are to move through the experience that we are having in a way that makes room for the next thing that comes in our life, we need to allow ourselves and others to fully experience even the most difficult emotions. When we push these kinds of emotions down and avoid processing them, we end up having a more difficult time with our emotions in the future. Partly because we have not resolved these ones and partly because we haven’t learned the skill set required for coping with our emotions.
Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!