Does this sound like you?
“Only positive thoughts. It could be worse. I should just be thankful. Just be happy!”
Whether those words are thought to yourself or out loud, do you think it will make you or your bestie feel better? Things like:
“this too shall pass” or “think happy thoughts!” or “focus on the good”?
I saw the description a few months ago: Toxic Positivity. Watching the Twins in the living room with my family, I said out loud, “YES, Finally someone defined it”. (I get excited about geeky stuff). For reals, I’ve been trying to figure out what the term is, besides Fake Positive (with an eye roll).
We need negative as much as positive and it’s how we USE it for GOOD that matters. Positive Polly or Negative Nelly? Does it have to just be one or the other?
I noticed this “toxic positivity” thing in practice 14 years ago and it showed up in the form of Anxiety, Depression and feeling out.of.control. Instead of experiencing all the feels, hiding was the name of the game – hiding sadness, the fear, this and that. But really, it’s the feeling of not being good enough.
And that’s why you don’t allow deep, real conversations, that’s why you avoid the ‘icky’, that’s why you don’t have the tough conversations with your kids.
And now you feel numb. Maybe even medicated. Likely running from a lot of stuff that needs to be expressed. You think it’s the SAFEST place to be but realize it’s the most dangerous. Because you don’t feel – so now your relationships are shallow, work is less than, your purpose is shaken, and there is an empty and lonely feeling.
What is “real” hard? I’ve heard it for years: “Tiff, shhhh” or “Tiff, save your opinion for later”. But why? Because it makes people feel uncomfortable. We don’t like conflict. So now we resort to saying nothing at all or just positive things so that people don’t say negative stuff about us. Life is full of positives and negatives, yet it depends on how our brain perceives the two, how you see the situation. If you see decisions as mistakes and failures, the lens that you look through is pretty dark. And I would bet you are struggling in relationships, health and purpose. If you see decisions as lessons, you know that your past is not negative, but a means to learn a buttload about how to handle life stress. The more we stay in the dark, the darker our secrets become.
As for sharing negative thoughts or hearing them from someone you love. Venting is NORMAL. Venting to find solutions, to learn a lesson, to roleplay a situation so that you feel better equipped when the next situation comes up. Sometimes that is getting to a point that you ask yourself, “What is the WORST thing that could happen right now?” so that your sense of reality changes. Every single person thinks and feels negative thoughts and if we aren’t trained on how to respond, we stuff them. And stuffed emotion creates disease…Not to mention incongruency, anger, resentment, fear. The more LIGHT you SHINE on all parts of your life, you will heal old traumas, past experiences, and start to LIVE.
Do we need to be either Polly or Nelly? No, there is a middle road. Be you, be real, be raw – even if it makes others uncomfortable. But use it for good. When you’re honest about how your <3 feels you have begun the transformation of letting go. Releasing the need to please others, letting go of perfection and acceptance and allowing what isn’t serving you to leave.
It takes courage to be REAL. But that’s what leaders do. Support your friend. Your kids. Your parents. Your spouse. Let them vent so they find clarity.
Lead your life…if you don’t, someone else will.