Toxic positivity is when you are facing a difficult situation, experiencing unpleasant emotions, and someone tells you something along the lines of:
– Look on the bright side
– Everything happens for a reason
– Be positive
– Everything will be fine
– Just get on with it
– It could be worse.
I have been this person. I have minimised people’s experiences without realising it. It’s a trap so easy to fall into.
Every day, we’re bombarded with pressure to be positive. We’re told that the key to happiness is silencing negativity wherever it crops up, in ourselves and others. Even when faced with illness, loss, or breakups, there’s little space for talking about our real feelings and processing them so that we can feel better and move forward.
A better way to support someone in their suffering or discomfort is to listen and acknowledge their difficulty. Try saying something like:
– That sounds so hard
– I am sorry you are going through this
– I don’t know what to say, but I am here for you
– I get why you feel like that.
Then ask them to tell you more about it, and simply listen from a place of genuine curiosity and empathy.
When going through a tough time, we benefit from allowing ourselves to feel our emotions. Experience them. Allow feelings to rise, peak, and fall. Our body needs to go through the whole cycle to experience and process the emotion. We don’t want to run from it. Instead, we want to notice it, recognise it and label it. We want to breathe deeply and sit with it. Accept it. With the knowledge that emotions are transient by nature, and eventually, they will fade away.
Easier said than done, I know. I have been there. But practice makes it perfect.
Are you ready to give it a try?
If you’d like to know more about supporting people in difficult moments and how to manage challenging emotions, direct message me. I am here for you!