What the “Positivity” process doesn’t like to talk about

A thought to set the tone for today, based on a personalized email I received from http://www.TUT.com:

The reason things always work out for the best, Tamara, is because this is actually the highest of all spiritual laws.

Any apparent exceptions are simply evidence that work is still in progress.


  The Universe


One of my posts “There’s a fine line between positivity and denial” brought out a couple of interesting points and I thought it would be a good idea to look at them. (All the comments were great by the way. The two I selected for this post seemed to really spark within me a desire to carry the thoughts further.)

When Positivity becomes an excuse to ignore Negative emotions

Pooja G has made a great comment:

“Toxic positivity is something that has been irritating me for a few years now. I believe the term became more popular due to social media and that’s how I heard about it. It annoys me because it strays people away from actually having a positive life. Positivity is fantastic and can do wonders for people when practiced correctly. However, denying anything negative and living in some sort of euphoric delusion helps no one.”

Pooja G

Thank you James L, for commenting:

“It becomes an excuse to ignore the negative emotions, holding all the issues in. Self-improvement is good, but we need that self-awareness and confidence to accept when something is not right!”

James L

James’ words stepped on a memory of who I was in my past. I, like many people, was in denial about how badly my life was going, I hid the truth from myself by convincing myself it was better than it was, and by ignoring how destructive it actually was.

This denial of course led me to live many more years in those difficult situations. My journey to recovery led me to understand a MASSIVE truth about myself: that I really didn’t like myself, and so self-sabotaged myself left, right, and center.

I had come out of 2 fundamental/ evangelical churches which actively promoted the very destructive Positivity movement, to be able to provide “proof” that God was very pleased with them. The “proof” of not being in God’s good graces was if there were financial setbacks or difficulties, health difficulties, job losses, or other major losses.

Ah, you may say I’m being very dramatic when I say these things. I was there. I saw people crumbling and being crushed under the weight of the mental and emotional pressure of appearing to be blessed by God because the flip side was people being shunned after long sessions of criticism in the form of “being corrected”.

This was a key ingredient in enhancing depression and anxiety. People who legitimately suffered from depression and anxiety were told that if they “put their faith in God” they would be blessed and their health would be made whole. If their depression and anxiety continued, it was a sign they just weren’t faithful enough, or that there were undisclosed sins so God couldn’t be happy with them and bless them with good health.

Never mind that’s not how depression or anxiety works, particularly if people have come into the church damaged from traumatic pasts. This Positivity movement has been embraced by many of the major and minor churches, creating many fake happy people who suffer silently from their depression and anxieties.

It is not only churches who promote this fake positivity movement, but many companies and organizations, where everyone is expected to promote the “we’re so happy here because it is such a great place to work”, but in reality, it can be a very toxic place.

There is a lot of money at stake for purveyors of this fake positivity movement, and unfortunately, the people who are affected by it now struggle with deeper depression and increased anxiety, because they were made to feel that something was terribly wrong with them if they couldn’t just “be happy like everyone else”.

Unfortunately, people’s mental health isn’t the only casualty of the fake positivity

When people are pressured by their churches (or companies) to be fake happy, all the negative emotions get shoved down, way down. We don’t want to be on the receiving end of being told we’re not a “good Christian” or not a “team player”

Our emotions don’t handle being shoved down and denied, they want to find a way to be heard. One way they come out is by bullying others, either in person but also online.

The fake happy people take their masks off when they feel they’re hidden or in their private space. Their frustrations, humiliation, and anger come out.

The repercussions on other people are intense.

Constant fake positivity can aggravate PTSD, depression, anxiety, and interfere with dealing with life. The expectation of constant positivity can aggravate underlying symptoms and mental illnesses because we aren’t giving ourselves the space to be ourselves and feel our feelings.

Positivity is a tool, not a destination!

I love positivity, but it cannot come at the expense of honesty or genuineness, otherwise, it will interfere with our personal growth. We need to see those limitations and be willing to work within them, or our mental health will suffer.

I’m a big fan of positive quotes, memes, and thoughts because I used those as tools to heal and to retrain my brain to think more positively during the time when I was learning to like myself.

The key word is TOOLS.

We use positivity as part of our toolkit in our personal growth and healing journey, but that’s an unrealistic destination!

Unfortunately, some people have interpreted the whole positivity toolbox to be the desired destination, the same way Instagram influencers present a fake life.

That’s not reality, and totally not realistic for anyone to sustain.

We aren’t supposed to hide our emotions behind big smiling happy faces. We need to give ourselves permission to face our emotions, to feel them, and then to be able to move through them.

Please encourage yourself, build yourself up, work on retraining your mind, and remember, this is a process, not a destination!

If you have a bad day or a down day, you haven’t failed! You are a human experiencing your emotions! I don’t expect you to be perfect, or to reach an advanced state of “constant happiness”, for that’s unrealistic!

All of the tools I teach are to help you to navigate the ups and downs of life, because those things happen and will keep happening!

The more tools we have in our toolkit, the better we can handle our lives, heal from past traumas and create the lives we wish to live! Blessings to you!

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:

More good stuff:


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https://tamarakulish.com/ Archived Posts: https://tamarakulish.com/archived-posts/

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23 thoughts on “What the “Positivity” process doesn’t like to talk about

  1. Great insight to the use of positive talk and positive thinking. It is true that it’s a tool to help you get the life you want. It’s not about putting on a fake smiling mask to hide the pain. We all have to work through our troubles little by little with the goal of a more positive and happy life as an outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t realize there was a dark side to the positivity process until I heard the term toxic positivity, then it made sense of what I and so many others had experienced, then it made so much sense. It was one of those truths that had been hiding under my nose for years! I definitely prefer using positivity as a tool to rewire my brain!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing Tamara, there is so much wisdom here that I need to bookmark and revisit later!

    “It is not only churches who promote this fake positivity movement, but many companies and organizations, where everyone is expected to promote the “we’re so happy here because it is such a great place to work”, but in reality, it can be a very toxic place.”

    I’ve encounter organisations or teams pushing this false positivity because fundementally the leaders thinks this absolves them from their failures, rather than taking the time to resolve the issues.

    My last team was like this – first week starting my new job I knew something wasn’t right – the team was divided with own interests, people always ‘busy’ – yet never seeing results, my manager came across as someone only doing the role as he wanted to tick a box on his resume, people fighting for position.

    Yet everyone you’d talk to would talk about the team like it was the best thing ever – all the great work being done, what a difference being made. It felt like talking to people in a brain washed cult!

    How was no one seeing what I could. I just wanted to scream out as I felt I’d landed on a different planet!

    I was greatful when other new starters came and began talking to me as a fellow person, as they saw the same things

    Red flags to watch out for are pretending to care and do nothing, getting in trouble for having the guts to raise real problems, and platitudes like providing mental health apps and webinars with no real substance.

    Anyway – it’s funny my comment helped you reflect on your past experiences, as the follow up post has helped me reflect on mine!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, these real-life encounters really help us to think, don’t they? Like you, I prefer genuineness in the workplace and places of worship, for when they aren’t, we miss out on real human interaction. All those remedies and platitudes you spoke of are pale replacements for the real thing. If we lack a genuine connection, then no amount of replacements will ever feel like enough, but when we have those connections, those tools are extra and help us when we feel down.

      As much as we try to select our workplace and worship environments to be genuine, the truth is, sometimes we just land in the wrong place and then need to work overtime to counteract those negatives! I’ve also started out in places that were genuine, but with a change of leadership, the entire culture of an organization can change drastically.

      I appreciate the interactions we have James! Thanks so much for your honesty in sharing!


    1. Thanks, Michele for this perceptive input! I love positivity, but it cannot come at the expense of honesty or genuineness, otherwise, as you said, it will interfere with our personal growth. We need to see those limitations and be willing to work within them, or our mental health will suffer.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s a good point, one I forgot to mention! We get socially primed to start thinking this way very early, don’t we?


    1. I’m so happy this resonated with you! Yes, going along with the fake positivity is exhausting and very counterproductive to managing anxiety! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As you say, Tamara, the blame the victim game within some religious institutions has flattened/crushed too many. Listening and acknowledging unhappiness is the first in bouncing back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you’re so right, Dr. Stein. Listening and acknowledging are important, as you know.

      Sometimes just being heard without being judged is enough to help so many to heal and to move forward.

      Others may need to read about people who have been through similar things, in order to feel validated that they didn’t imagine everything they went through!

      Thank you for adding the strength of your words here, to help any who may need it!


  4. Brilliant, and so beautifully written dear lady. Yes, it does take a long time to find ourselves, and yes we deny ourselves for so long. But the mask wearing, even though having a purpose, is just that denial of what is there and needs understanding. It gives us that understanding we ever struggle with. Our fears are those doubts and disbelief of ourselves but this very journey is giving us courage to face them so that we can understand us and go beyond them into that incredible love waiting to hold us high. We need to slowly change ‘us’ in experiencing so much and learn to believe and love ourselves in that process. Finally coming to rest in that understanding inside with not a ‘what if’ to be found anywhere. When we finally see it and understand, we will look back and see that every single step, good or bad, has taken us to where we now stand. We need them all. We cannot know and appreciate happiness without experiencing sadness too, to give that appreciation. Experiencing our fearful conditional love, will give such a beautiful, appreciative gladness in our hearts, when we finally do touch and feel that unconditional love too. Great post Tamara, written to a ‘T’ 😀❤️🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mark! I always appreciate your supportive feedback and wise comments! Indeed, going through everything fine tunes us, it creates within us a new person, and when we learn to love ourselves, we can carry that expression outwards to others so they may know this too!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re one smart cookie! I was reprimanded quite a number of times for not appearing to be cheerful enough when I was in 2 churches, for it seemed to them that if I REALLY had true faith, then I’d be happy all the time. Sucks to have depression or anxiety within those kinds of groups! LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was guilty of this for all too long–the fake it til you make it positivity. There is a fine line, but I love how you say that positivity is the tool, rather than the destination. I agree. Positivity is the lens through which we can view everything, and find ecstatic joy, humble acceptance, or anything in-between. Thank you for this, Tamara. I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged and this was just the message I needed. ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad you got what you needed today! Yes, this is an important distinction to make, it helps us to see things through a different lens, and not feel guilty for not being fake positive like others around!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! Good on you! Many can’t or won’t accept this challenge, it’s pretty… challenging. Hard things aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you’re right, unless we choose to face them, we won’t grow!

      Liked by 1 person

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