The problem with positivity…

The problem with positivity…

BE POSITIVE!
IT’LL GET BETTER!
YOU’LL GET OVER IT!

The messages are everywhere. See the good. Ignore or push away the bad. Move onward and upward!

And I’m often one of those voices.

My Throwback Thursday podcast on May 19th was to a post from January 2021 that was my argument that you are worthy. You are worthy of love, of friendship, of compassion.

Pretty damn positive.

Because I do after all believe that there are good bits and bobs often hidden in everything everywhere. And it’s easy to miss those when we are focused on the negative.

Or, when we are just stressed and overwhelmed and having a hard time.

Seeing the positive can be tough, and it helps to have those reminders, sometimes.

Sometimes, though, positive messages have a negative effect.

Humans are at their best when they experience a wide range of emotions in life. O’erweening positivity can deny the validity of many not-so-positive emotions and minimize the human experience.

👉 Some things just wholly and completely suck.
👉 Some things are terrible, sad, horribly unfair, and not at all good.
👉 Some things will leave scars.
👉 Some things take a long time to bounce back from.

Positivity can even be toxic.

A few quotes pulled from online:

Toxic positivity or sometimes positive toxicity is a dysfunctional approach to emotional management that happens when people do not fully acknowledge negative emotions, particularly anger and sadness.

The process of toxic positivity results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.

Here’s how it might show up in your everyday life:

❌ Masking your “real” feelings, so you seem happier/more positive.
❌ “Moving on,” when you’re not yet over it.
❌ Feeling guilt or shame over your negative feelings.
❌ Minimizing of feelings, eg: “It’s not that bad.”
❌ Comparisons and perspectives of feelings, eg: “Other people have it worse.”
❌ Showing frustration at others’ less-than-positive feelings.
❌ Brushing off things that bother you, eg: “It’s OK,” or “It is what it is.”

That said, it can suck to feel negative more than we feel positive, and we all know that sometimes it does take a perspective shift.

How do we do that, without pouring toxicity all over ourselves (or others)?

Instead of “Look at the bright side…”

Let’s first accept and validate our feelings. It’s OK to feel shitty about something.

AND it’s OK to feel shitty about something and accept it for what it is. To say, “I’m not yet over this, but I will get over it, even if I feel bad about it now.”

It’s also OK to look for the good.

Like whenever life feels particularly harsh or difficult, take a moment to look for any good. It might be hiding. It might be small. It might be hard to spot. But it matters.

Positive does not REPLACE the negative.

It lives alongside it. It makes it easier to live with and through. It gives us something to work towards. It gives us hope, and sometimes a REASON to keep going, to keep striving, and to keep connecting.

I’m personally a pretty positive person.

And yet, when my surgeon told me that she wants to perform a double mastectomy as a preventative measure, I got all up in my feels for a week or two.

And really, I’m not used to feeling that way.

And I didn’t expect it.

After all, I’ve been thinking this is probably going to happen for a while, and I’ve always said I wanted to get a boob job at 50. Well, I’m turning 49 in two months, so the timing is perfect.

But…I still felt sad. Like I was mourning the loss of my tits.

And I was.

And that was OK.

And so, I processed. And I gave myself time and compassion to do so. And I told a few people around me. And I started some research. And I’m getting a second opinion, just in case there are things I didn’t consider or my surgeon didn’t think to tell me.

And I’m pretty positive about my ability to handle all this. And I came out of it. Just…one day I wasn’t feeling sad about it anymore.

But I probably will again, as I go through the process. And I will embrace it and accept it, and turn to my friends for love and support. And I will look for the good (new sweater puppies!), and hold it as close to me as the bad.

What are your thoughts?

Have you experienced toxic positivity? At the hand of others? Or maybe you did it to yourself?

Have you found a good balance through a tough situation that you are willing to share?

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