As the world continues being pandemic-ed and polarized, do you hear fingernails on a chalk board when someone says: “Just look at the bright side”?
Being faced with ongoing massive life disruptions, I bet you’d rather hear something that acknowledges the exhaustion, confusion, anger and sadness you’re feeling.
The pressure to stay positive rather than just feel what you're feeling gives messages that you’re wrong for feeling that way. Just so you know, feeling extreme emotions is a natural, healthy response to these extraordinary times.
Emotions are complicated; they exist to communicate information to you. They could be trying to proctect you, telling you to notice something going on inside, and no matter what form they show up in, they’re always reminders that a subconscious fear has been triggered.
So, the last thing someone in this seemingly endless calamity wants to hear is that “Everything happens for a reason.” (Even though, on a Higher Consciousness level, it does… but you can read my other blogs about that!)
What is Toxic Positivity?
The relatively new term, “toxic positivity," perfectly describes the often-subtle mindset that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, you should always maintain a good-vibes only outlook. Sure, there are benefits to being optimistic, but toxic positivity insists you reject tough emotions and put on a happy-yet-false face.
A positive perspective is good for your mental well-being, but life is packed with painful experiences (like now). Using upbeat positivity to sidestep difficult experiences or push down emotions can actually cause more harm than good.
Using positive platitudes might seem evolved, but they can shut down what needs to be expressed, thus never releasing and completing your pain cycle.
I’m certainly not encouraging a continual Debbie Downer attitude -- being positive can actually be a gift to those around you. But not if it’s used to dismiss, ignore, invalidate or minimize what you or someone else is going through.
Shoving emotions into a corner eventually has them emerge in an overreactive force or become a physical issue.
It's natural to want to fix someone’s sadness, but being a safe place to acknowledge pain is often all someone really needs. Listening thoughtfully when others express their experiences is a healing.
Rather than cheery clichés, offer validation, acceptance and true caring instead.
Put your hand over your mouth before saying things like ‘look for the silver lining,’ and use phrases that communicate that you’re fully present. Even something as simple as "I'm here, how can I assist?" or “I’m sorry,” when stated authentically, can help.
Compassionate listening means not instantly countering their pain with your own. Rather, offering a kind statement such as 'Yeah, me too' can allow them to know you understand empathetically.
Toxic positivity is not just how you treat others, but how you might be treating yourself.
Are you pressuring yourself to ignore difficult emotions? Are you applying stoic spiritual bypass methods to get to ‘It’s all good’?
Allowing yourself to sit and feel what you’re feeling without judgment helps emotions resolve and release more quickly. If not, you’ll suddenly find yourself overreacting to smaller events and not know why.
Remember: All negative emotions are fear in disguise, so make sure to ask yourself what fear has been triggered.
Most importantly, the stronger an emotion gets, the more it’s telling you that it’s time to express it in a positive, responsible way.
It’s up to you to not inflict toxic positivity on others or yourself.
If you’re feeling shamed into forced positivity by someone, don't buy into it and maybe explain why. That could open the door for an authentic, heart-to-heart, human connection.
There are countless benefits to being positive, but the more you use it to avoid or deny your true self, it's guaranteed that what you resist will persist.
In other words, it will likely come back to bite you (and others) in the butt.
Royce Morales, a renowned transformational facilitator, developer and teacher of Perfect Life Awakening, offers unique, breakthrough, spiritually-based tools to discover and resolve the roots of self-sabotaging, negative inner programming. This profound inner work awakens and transforms you by overcoming limiting beliefs, shifting your consciousness and resolving what's keeping you from a life of deservingness and true joy.
Soon to arrive: A new podcast!
Contact Royce for a free fifteen minute consultation to see if this inner-journey is a good fit.
Royce is the author of three fascinating books about her teachings: “Want: True love, past lives and other complications;” “Know: A spiritual wake-up call;” and “Back: Rebirth After Stroke,” all available on amazon.com