Goodbye Toxic Positivity! Here’s What to do Instead.
When I first heard the term “Toxic Positivity”, I immediately knew what it meant. “YES!” I thought, “Finally we’re talking about fake positive BS!”
What’s could be bad about Positive Vibes Only?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m most definitely not saying it’s bad to be positive. However, the pressure we – especially women – feel to be positive at all costs is negatively affecting our mental health.
Masking negative emotions
When we’re told being positive is the be-all-end-all, we’re quick to eliminate any negative thoughts and feelings by “thinking positive”, but skip the work of addressing what feels off.
I’m certainly not saying you need to spend hours dissecting every negative emotion, rather recognizing it’s there and it’s valid instead of shoving it aside for the sake of “staying positive” isn’t true positivity anyway.
If we never address our negative feelings, we miss out on an opportunity to know ourselves better, to figure out what we want out of life, and what we don’t.
It’s impossible to be 100% positive
Have you ever thought how insane (not to mention how annoying) it would be to be positive every second? Just like we need rainy days, we are meant to experience a range of emotions.
Denying when we’re upset or simply feeling blah, deprives us of the whole human experience. To force positivity at all costs is exhausting and could lead to more stress than simply allowing yourself the grace to feel your negative emotions.
Makes us feel at fault
This is the biggest gripe I have with Toxic Positivity. I see it all too often in the fertility world, although it – of course – affects all endeavors. We’re told that positive thoughts attract positive outcomes, and that negativity will drag us down and prevent us from reaching our goals.
Read This: 4 Steps to a New Mindset
In some ways, yeah, I mean if you never believe in yourself and are hating on others, it’s going to be a miserable journey. However, what I see happening is when women fall short of their goal – they don’t get the job, they have another negative pregnancy test, their partner turns out to be a jerk – they feel guilty for not being positive.
If they could only have thought more positively, things would have worked out in their favor. Instead, they had doubts so their hopes did not become their reality.
Experience negativity without dwelling
The next time you’re feeling down, avoid covering it up with a Positivity Band-Aid. Allow yourself to think, “This sucks!” It’s perfectly fine, healthy even, to admit you aren’t thrilled about something.
The key here is being able to pull yourself out as opposed to dwelling in a pity party that never ends. Some will give themselves a time limit that varies with the severity of the negative emotion. Give yourself 10 minutes, an hour, or a day, to feel down without pressure to figure out your next step or reach for a silver lining.
Release the pressure to stay positive
Are you relieved just hearing that statement? You should be! It’s stressful to think we have to stay positive about everything at all times, which completely defeats the purpose of positivity.
Make optimism your end goal, and know that you will fall out of the Positive Vibey Feels throughout your journey. Staying positive at all times does not make or break you getting what you want.
Bridge the gap
Repeating a positive affirmation when you feel super negative feels inauthentic. Instead, reach for the neutral. When you feel bad about your body, instead of forcing “I love every inch of me!”, try, “I am working on loving my body.” You’re pulling yourself out of the negative, but not with a positive paint job. Instead, you acknowledge that you are in a negative place you want to get out of, and offer yourself a neutral place to hang out for a while.
Easier Positivity in action
Let’s say you put a bid on a house that is PERFECT for your family. You’re led to believe it’s yours then – BAM! – you’re turned down and it’s back to the drawing board.
Toxic Positivity would have you feverishly repeating a positive mantra, “The perfect house will find me, the perfect house will find me!!” You do not need to ignore that you’re bummed! This house was perfect, you were really psyched, and now it’s gone. That is upsetting.
Recognize you’re upset. Maybe you text a friend, commiserate with your spouse, or stomp around your kitchen for a half hour grumping and lamenting about how unfair it is.
You will notice when the steam begins to subside. Take that as your internal clue that you are ready to begin the next step.
Abraham Hicks displays the emotional range from fear and despair all the way to joy. Notice how many emotions are in between. Yet, we expect ourselves to be near the bottom with the ability to think a positive thought and jump to the top!
Your “next step” is likely different from your friends’, spouse’s, mom’s, etc. Finding the action that aligns with who you are and where you want to go isn’t always clear.
This is exactly what I help women do. For more on my services, go here, and for a community that supports you where you are and where you’re headed, I invite you to join my free group, Aligned Action Collective!