What’s This about Toxic Positivity?

I live around people who focus a lot on the good in their lives and strive to present themselves as happy. I respect that very much and love them for it. Everyone in my household has a gratitude practice, and two of them write about it in their journals every day. These are all very admirable things to do. I’m glad these practices are good for their mental well being.

Happy happy, joy joy! So what if it’s windy and my hair hurts!

I spend my “gratitude time” noticing what is going on right now that brings me joy. Yesterday I saw a coyote cross the road, then a bluebird flew by. Happiness! Today I smelled some lotion that brought happy memories to me. Living in the moment is also healing for the soul.

But sometimes, lately often, I notice people who simply don’t allow themselves to pay heed to or allow themselves react outwardly to the challenging parts of their lives. Some people close to me seem to want to force away anything that would cause pain, worry or stress to present a very cheerful persona. What I’m having trouble with is when people judge themselves and others (say, me) for not always being happy. Taken to an extreme, that’s toxic positivity.

Sometimes I just can’t do it. Like, hey, I’m annoyed by that backwards apostrophe.

I’m not the only person to notice it. I read this article recently, and it helped me see why I was feeling uncomfortable with the pressure to always present myself as happy. It’s why I’d practically growl at people who’d chirp “Smile!” at me if I was presenting myself as neutral or concerned. “Look, I’m thinking about my dead dog. I don’t want to smile.” Here’s how it feels to me:

A lot of us feel pressure to come across as though we are living our best lives. And I’m not saying everyone who says they are happy is actually not, or people who try to push “positive vibes” onto you don’t have your best interests at heart – but covering up your true feelings with layers of fake happiness is really not it.

Welcome to the world of toxic positivity: The trend which is ruining our lives, by Hayley Green

Especially right now, I have started to feel like I let my family down if I admit that I’m stressed at work, or had a bad experience, or even just feel a bit grumpy. I’m not negative all the time; in fact, I’m not positive all the time. I think my base is sort of neutral, so I’m not a little ray of sunshine nor do I walk under a dark cloud. I just experience what’s going on right now, which can be good, bad, or in between. It’s me. It’s how I am.

Carlton would rather hide from negativity.

I’m not alone, thankfully. One of my friends, who thinks about mortality a lot, wrote her own obituary today, and in it she said:

She spent her life resisting toxic positivity. Not because she didn’t see goodness in the world but because she saw all of it and didn’t deny the whole story.

JD, her obituary, Facebook

That’s okay with me. In fact, it made me happy to read what my friend said!

I found this handy example of how you can validate someone’s feelings without making them feel like they have to fake being happy with everything:

Image from sitswithwhit on Instagram

We’re All Different

This is NOT my message to my readers!

Look, I’m not knocking people who have found that focusing on the positive has improved their lives. I’m pleased for them, and encourage them to keep up that practice, because it works for them. I just hope that they can allow other emotions when they truly are valid.

It seems to me that it takes a lot of effort to push down anything that’s not 100% cheerful. It probably takes as much effort to be endlessly negative (I do know some of those folks, too, the ones who can take anything you say and find the down side).

So please, do what works for you to cope with the challenges you are facing every day. But consider that not everyone is cut out for being happy at all times, and that some of us don’t even want to. Let’s enjoy our differences and be patient with our friends and family who cope differently than we do. Then we can have some genuinely non-toxic positivity in our lives.

As a donkey, I make people happy, but I’m sort of an Eeyore. I can’t change.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

3 thoughts on “What’s This about Toxic Positivity?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Crissi McDonald

Heartline Horse Training

sara annon

seeking the middle path

Tonya's Tall Tales

My life with horses, bunnies, chickens, ducks, and cows.

rfljenksy - Practicing Simplicity

Legendary Wining and Dining World Tour.

The Backyard Horse Blog

All about keeping horses at home

Hazel's Animal Adventures

My life on the ranch.

Diary Of The Wests

The West Household Runs Of Love And Laughter

Katie Zapfel

Children's book author. Mom blogger.

365 Knit Socks

I knit, crochet, and dye yarn

recoveringpornaddictcom.wordpress.com/

Coach, author and educator

The daily addict

The daily life of an addict in recovery

Just Vee

A regular gal who likes to stop and smell the flowers.

Happy Heidi's Happenings

My life in the country.

BrownesPups

A family of dog lovers, owners & breeders since 2015

The Adventures of a Mountain Coward

panic-stricken mountain adventuring!

Something Over Tea

Scribbles from my notebook

The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Heccateisis's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Upstate Gardener

The Upstate Gardening blog with Gardening Information, Recipies, Home Improvement Ideas, and Crafts Projects to make your life more beautiful and healthy.

Read, Learn, Live

Look closely around and about you, and you will see all forms of beauty.

Nature And Photography

Bring Nature Into Life

AT PATHO

no streetlights, just star light

Words and Stitches

woolgathering at its best

The Grief Reality

Normalising the conversation about Grief.

iRoseStudios.com

Art Studio Dumfriesshire

The Creative Pixie

eat up some crafty goodness with this creative mama

Writings of a Furious Woman

My thoughts, sentiments, and scribbles on womanhood

Paws Bark

Dogs Leave Paw Print in your Heart

Yeshua's Child Art

Art that Expresses the Heart

Chicken Coop Plans

Build Your Chicken a Home

Leaf And Twig

Where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry.

Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Cathartic Tendencies

motivational posts, rants, and stories!

TotallyTexasGifts.com

Featuring Fine Arts & Crafts created and sold by Texans

Seasons As My Teacher

Truth Written In The Wind

claudiajustsaying

Aging & Attitude

The Tragedy Kween

A boisterous introvert illustrating her way through life.

Zoewiezoe

Where a little insanity goes a long way

%d bloggers like this: