Guilty Of Toxic Of Positivity? What Not to Say When Someone Is Feeling Down

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It‘s unrealistic to believe that life will always be good, that moments will be happy, and that we must always think positively. What makes us human is our ability to feel emotions on all sides of the spectrum. That’s how we l appreciate the good and learn from the bad.

Toxic positivity is an increasingly popular belief that no matter how difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. In psychology, it’s considered dysfunctional emotional management because it doesn’t fully acknowledge negative emotions, especially anger and sadness.

While we don’t like to see people hurting, especially those we love, but telling them to think positively won’t help them feel better, and saying the following can make them feel even more powerless.

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Why You Shouldn’t “Look On The Bright Side”

When we feel powerless in an unfortunate situation, whether we’re the ones in it or we are seeing someone we love go through it, we feel like we have to do something. We feel like it’s our place to have to say something and somehow fix it.

Elijah O’Donnell / Pexels
Elijah O’Donnell / Pexels

But by taking on the responsibility of fixing something that is neither ours to fix or within our control, only pushes the person we’re trying to help further into darkness.

“Look on the bright side!” we say, as if life is that grey and white. Light can exist within darkness. We do this to ourselves as well, and it’s invalidating. Don’t forget that it’s possible to be grateful ad still acknowledge the pain. The less we resist it, the more we can get through it in a healthy way.

“Don’t Be So Negative”

“Don’t be so negative!” we often say in encouragement. We mean it as a little tease, thinking we’re harmlessly reminding someone of the positives still around them. However, what we’re actually doing is denying them the feelings that they’re entitled to as humans. It’s okay to feel negative feelings like anger, sadness, fear, and disappointment.

Nathan Cowley / Pexels
Nathan Cowley / Pexels

In fact, we need to feel them in order to process a situation and gain that positive perspective eventually. This isn’t a step that we should skip. Emotions aren’t as simple as “positive” and “negative”, rather they’re understood in relationship to each other, making healing through the less positive ones, a process, not a switch.

“Everything Will Workout”

This is a false promise. Yes, everything will work out and its own way but not if you just sit and do nothing. Sitting and forcing positivity as if this will magically fix a painful situation isn’t realistic.

man hugs woman from behind (without faces)
Jonathan Borba / Pexels
Jonathan Borba / Pexels

In life, nothing is guaranteed but in order to survive we need to build resiliency and accept what we can’t control. As the famous saying goes, we should work on gaining serenity to accept the things we can’t change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference. That wisdom allows us to know that not everything will work out exactly in the way we want it to and to accept that that’s okay.

“Trust In The Universe”

There is a difference between trusting the universe and understanding that even then, bad things are bound to happen. Yes, this is all part of the universe’s path for us as these situations are meant to teach us, make us stronger, and prepare us for our highest potential.

photo-of-persons-hands with colors-doing-high-five
Cottonbro / Pexels
Cottonbro / Pexels

We need to redefine what trusting the universe means. It doesn’t mean expecting that no harm ever will calm, but rather trusting that we have the strength within ourselves to overcome it, and then learn from it.

“Other People Have It Worse”

Life isn’t a comparison or a race. When we practice gratitude, we shouldn’t be grateful for what we have compared to our neighbor. This would mean that we are finding joy in other people’s misfortune. We shouldn’t feel better because others feel worse. We all have our struggles and they all have their impact and are valid in their own way.

Cottonbro / Pexels
Cottonbro / Pexels

Minimizing your pain because it’s not as bad as someone else’s won’t make it go away. Rather, accept your pain and find the space to help those around you as well. We’re all part of the same team.

“Things Aren’t That Bad”

Pain and sadness operate on a scale. Some situations hurt more than others because of their value and impact on us. What is meaningful to one person may be less for another. While in the grand scheme of things, things may not look as bad, it’s okay to allow ourselves to feel the full weight of their impact on us.

close up of man's face with eyes wellig up
Kindel Media / Pexels
Kindel Media / Pexels

If that means that we fall apart for a moment then that might be what it takes for us to get back up. We shouldn’t just rush to a positive perspective because that’s not sustainable. Healing is slow. It’s okay to take your time, knowing, knowing you won’t feel this way forever.

There Are No Bad Emotions, Just Good Reactions

We’re not saying that positivity is always bad, but too much of anything is never a good thing. We simply encourage you to embrace a more grey perspective.

red headed woman and black woman-hugging-each-othe
Anna Shvets / Pexels
Anna Shvets / Pexels

Rather than looking at positive vs negative feelings as black and white, acknowledging the benefits and impact of feeling everything in between.

See The Bad To Appreciate The Good

We don’t have to rush our healing. There is no timeline for heartbreak, grief, and pain. Take the time you need to heal and know that your pain will one day allow you to experience joy once again. You’re not a robot, always in positive mode. You’re human and there’s beauty in that.

Wendel Moretti / Pexels
Wendel Moretti / Pexels

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Aria Misty

Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.

Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]