All of this Throat Chakra work recently has set my voice and my truth on fire!!! I figured if I was on a roll, I would take advantage of the all the inspiration and write. As I've mentioned before in previous posts, I have always been an optimistic person my whole life; "glass half-full," "silver-lining," and "whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger." These are the ideas and phrases I would repeatedly remind myself when I struggled and felt depressed when I was younger. Now, I'm not saying these are bad ideas or ways to look at life because we all need inspiration and something to guide us through when we struggle. But with that being said, "Good Vibes Only," and the like, can be very dangerous. These seemingly innocent phrases can be toxic, actually.
Lately, I've encountered a lot of these "Positive Vibes Only," "Stay Positive," "Don't Worry, Be Happy," or "Good Vibes Only" people. Shit. . . I even have a Spiritual Gangster bathing-suit that says, "Good Vibes Only" on it. I bought into that scene wholeheartedly without even thinking that this ideology could be toxic. From Urban dictionary the definition of Toxic Positivity is the belief that, "If you just stay positive, you will overcome any obstacle," to such a degree that you invalidate natural emotional responses and the person having those feelings." Yeah, read that again. I've done this countless times. . . most of us have. We meant well and meant no harm. But now that I know better, I will DO better. And I hope you will too. This, my friends, is how we grow. Because you don't know, what you don't know.
The reasons why toxic positivity is so dangerous:
It invalidates the other person's feelings.
You minimize the other person's suffering because you can't handle the uncomfortable conversation or situation.
You can't think of anything better to say to the person.
You haven't dealt with your own emotions, so how can you deal with theirs?
No one, no one is happy 24/7.
You may not realize the person you are trying to comfort with these toxic phrases, may be having a REAL mental health crisis.
I'm all about being real and feeling the emotions that come up in life. Life is constantly changing and therefore our emotions do as well. We need these feelings (which are totally normal and acceptable) to better understand ourselves. Have you ever woken up and just felt sad for no reason at all? Or maybe feeling stressed from having to balance too many things at once? Those are emotions. And they give us a clue to what is happening internally. Welcome to being human. Ignoring or stuffing "negative" emotions is NOT healthy. We can create inflammation and dis-ease in the body by not releasing emotions in an appropriate way.
So, what can you do instead of by-passing other people's or your own emotions?
Acknowledge the feeling- "good" or "bad" and know that it's normal- how you react/respond to them IS important.
Validate and empathize with the person sitting in front of you- "I understand this is difficult for you, I'm here for you." You can even do this with your own feelings- acknowledge them and know when you are ready to pick yourself up, you will.
Be real; share your struggles too, but don't compare. We all have baggage we need to unpack. No one is perfect.
We need to allow people the space to feel their emotions, to sit with them. After some time, they will pull through and come out on the other side. We can't force anyone to skip over the sitting with the hard emotions stage. It's necessary to heal.
Offer genuine support such as. . . "Is there anything I can do for you?" Perhaps the gesture itself is enough for someone to know there is someone in their corner they can trust.
I hope this helps you to navigate difficult emotions and how to be supportive and not just gloss over another person's suffering. Suffering in life is inevitable. We all have our pains and struggles, the worst thing to do is minimize another human being's pain. The best thing to do is empathize. So let's lead with love and compassion to all.
P.S. the next time someone gives you some toxic positivity; feel free to refer them to me ; )