Are You Prone To Toxic Positivity?

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. Mother Teresa

I’m known to be a positive person. In many ways, it’s how I define myself. I even wrote a book about the power of affirmation and another one about how to move forward after loss. People who are constantly “ain’t it awfuling” annoy me, especially when they want me to jump on their bandwagon.

Lately, however, I’m recognizing that there’s a space between constant positivity and the “Ain’t It Awfuls.” It’s called toxic positivity. 

The Psychology Group, a mental health organization in Fort Lauderdale, FL, defines toxic positivity as “the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations. The process of toxic positivity results in the denial, minimization, and the invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.”

Recently when I posted on Facebook about being ill, I had a response that I took as recognition for “being real.” Yep, the Queen of Positivity has bad days, gets angry, gets sick, has anxiety, and occasionally feels sad, lonely, and unhappy. 

Trusting that I’ll never become an “Ain’t It Awfuler,” I will strive to be more authentic about how I feel. If it’s true, the next time someone asks how I am, I might just have the courage and feel the freedom to say, “Not so great. Thanks for asking.” 

Affirmation: I will be authentic in my emotional experience.

Coaching questions: What are the signs that you experience toxic positivity? How will you be more authentic?

Not Everyone Is Merry – Learn to Listen

Big emotions aren’t there to torture us. Rather, they show up to offer us some insight, to point out something that needs healing, or to help us address a deeper problem. Kate Hanley, author of How to Be a Better Person

The holidays are anything but merry for many people. When you speak with a friend who is struggling, resist trying to cheer them up. Instead, start with simply being present.

Listen. Let their words in. Say things like, “I hear you saying…” or “It sounds like…”. Hanley reminds us that jumping in to problem-solve or attempting to absolve their fear with toxic positivity may inhibit them from recognizing the insight that the emotion is trying to help them understand.” 

Affirmation: I will listen.

Coaching questions: If you’re the “friend” who is struggling, ask yourself, “What do I need?” Or, “What is a way forward?”

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash