Edit: I found this funny/sad article about toxic workforce “positivity”, and I see how positivity has been weaponized against workers: https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/people-sharing-most-cult-job-034503536.html
What is Toxic Positivity?
I heard the term “Toxic Positivity” recently and as a person who promotes positive self-talk, I have to admit I was intrigued but also concerned that my writing could be interpreted as Toxic Positivity.
Diving in a little, I Googled the term and found this article explaining it: “What Is Toxic Positivity?” by Kendra Cherry.
Toxic positivity is the belief that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. It’s a “good vibes only” approach to life. And while there are benefits to being an optimist and engaging in positive thinking, toxic positivity instead rejects difficult emotions in favor of a cheerful, often falsely positive, facade.
We all know that having a positive outlook on life is good for your mental well-being. The problem is that life isn’t always positive. We all deal with painful emotions and experiences. Those emotions, while often unpleasant, are important and need to be felt and dealt with openly and honestly.
Toxic positivity takes positive thinking to an overgeneralized extreme. This attitude doesn’t just stress the importance of optimism, it minimizes and denies any trace of human emotions that aren’t strictly happy or positive.from “What Is Toxic Positivity?” by Kendra Cherry
From what I have been able to determine, Toxic Positivity entails a strong denial of anything negative in our lives, basically sweeping the dirt under the rug in order to maintain a bright facade.
Of course, this is extremely unhealthy, and is the path to becoming even more depressed and anxious because we aren’t able to heal if we ignore the problems!
What is regular Positivity and how do we use it for our benefit?
Having come out of a past where I had been emotionally damaged and subsequently struggled with depression and anxiety, one of the tools I used was positive quotes to help rewire my brain into thinking differently, and not just jumping down the old rabbit holes which just sucked me into their vortex.
I understand the feelings of shame and guilt, but I also recognized they came from my past and weren’t actually a product of reading positive quotes.
The duration of going through healing is a troubling and disturbing time because many of the things we had shoved deep down are now vying for our attention. This period of time can be very gut-wrenching as we struggle to make sense of what happened to us and to tentatively start to pave our new pathway in life.
When we go through abuse, whatever type it is, we internalize the way we were treated and come to the wrong belief that we were responsible, and were to blame for what happened, because that is the deep message our abuser leaves us with.
“You MADE me do this to you!” is either overtly said to us, or it has been inferred by the abuser’s behavior.
When we come to deeply believe the lies, they become part of our inner negative self-talk, picking up where the abuser left off. We call ourselves names when we see ourselves messing up, and can truly be very harsh and demeaning to ourselves, saying things we wouldn’t say to other people. We’ve effectively learned to abuse ourselves.
Unpacking the lies, learning they were lies and not our truth is truly eye-opening.
Separating ourselves from the lies is difficult, because who ARE we when we eliminate the lies?
Those lies may have been such a deep part of our lives for so long, that we STRUGGLE with this question. More importantly, the feelings of guilt and shame of feeling our feelings rear up incredibly strong, threatening to overpower us.
Yet, what are those feelings, except being part of the package of lies!
I know when I was going through my own healing I struggled with those same emotions as I tried to glue myself back together.
When I realized I didn’t actually need to GLUE myself together as much as I needed to just BUILD my fresh foundation and lay everything I wanted to be as a human on top of that, I found myself feeling liberated.
Who I was before was a broken person.
I honored her by doing a lot of writing and emotional art-making to not only exorcise myself of the negativity and the pain but also to start to infuse pieces of positivity which my brain used as a life-raft to transport me slowly from the wastewater of the broken to the solid, healthy ground I get to walk on now.
Teaching myself to think about myself positively, to teach myself to speak encouragingly and supportively to myself was difficult because it was all alien to me.
This is where I borrowed the strength of writers who seemed to have experienced what I had but who had come out the other side and were offering up their positivity and snippets of wisdom.
I didn’t have much emotional or mental bandwidth to do this deep inner work for long periods, and somehow, the positive side seemed far more exhausting to me than the negative.
Looking back I now understand that I was very comfortable with the negative, having lived with it for so many years. It was something I could slip into very easily because it was what I knew.
The positive however was exhausting!
I didn’t know how to feel joy or happiness without having a sense of impending doom and dread of the negative coming swooping in with a vengeance for allowing myself to feel joy.
It took a long time to rewire my brain to simply be able to accept something good in my life without feeling guilt, shame, or fear of being punished for feeling positive.
We need to practice persistence
Brain Rewiring is very possible, for each of us, but does require persistence! Creating new Neural Pathways is an act of love we give to ourselves!
It’s easy to give up on ourselves when we feel overwhelmed and crawl back into our dark cave where we nurse our negative feelings.
Learning to become healthier and learning to stop beating ourselves up isn’t about denying we have these difficult feelings, it’s about acknowledging them, yet choosing to sidestep them paralyzing us and preventing us from feeling good about ourselves.
Below is a list of my favorite posts which speak to these issues in more depth and offer you different tips for moving forward out of the dark uncomfortable cave, out of the wastewater, and instead navigating to the solid, healthy ground!
I hope you’ll poke around my Archived Posts to find a wonderful trove of supportive and encouraging posts!
I’m sharing more posts that may be helpful for you:
- 10 Steps to Owning Our Happiness
- Setting “Boundaries with consequences”
- Making a change… “How do I take that first step?”
- Affirmation: Today is a new day! I can do this!
- As we practice being gentle and kind with ourselves, we actually help to speed the process of helping our lives become more positive!
- Always believe that wonderful things can happen!
- A healthy outside starts from the inside!
More good stuff:
- Teaching ourselves to like, even to love ourselves
- By changing our inner dialogue, we change EVERYTHING!
- Challenge: When a negative thought enters your mind, think three positive ones. Train yourself to flip the script!
- Red Ocean or Blue Ocean? How do you think?
- An answer to dealing with the Inner Critic!
- My top 10 most viewed posts, plus a few bonuses!
- A helpful trick to be able to overcome negatively Comparing Ourselves to others…
- Do you only accept yourself if you look a certain way?
- A new you! Is this possible?
- Start today, start tomorrow, just start!
- There is no enlightenment outside of daily life – Thich Nhat Hanh
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Guided Journals help you work on a particular issue by answering questions to help see patterns and to find solutions:
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