Nontoxic Equanimity

Having written posts on toxic negativity and positivity in the past, I was really happy to hear the last part of an NPR presentation on toxic positivity this morning. I wanted to hear it, so I searched and couldn’t find it. I was bummed, because I liked the fact that the therapist being interviewed talked about how not all positivity is bad and that some negativity may well be justified.

angry suna
This was my sweaty face of negativity when I found out someone spoofed my Instagram account yesterday.

Finally, my brain kicked in and I found the article on the website of my local station, KUT. They have great original programming, too! If you get a chance, read the transcript or listen to the interview.

So, in her discussion with the KUT reporter, Junice Rockman makes the point that a lot of us are looking for the good things in life right now, since there’s so much ickiness going on in 2020 (obviously she didn’t say ickiness). And that’s fine. As the interview pointed out:

“…there is nothing wrong with positivity, as long as it is not used to:

  • deny
  • disconnect
  • disregard
  • disassociate, or
  • dismiss someone else’s ideas.”

That rang true to me. Some of the things I’ve heard and memes I’ve read seem to insist that you’re not good enough if you can’t always be positive. Your just not trying hard enough, don’t love yourself enough, or are just trying to be Debbie Downer.

Who me? I’m Penney Positive!

The heart of the matter is that it’s unrealistic to expect people to be either happy all the time, or eternally sad failures. To me that’s just common sense. Rockman says this kind of all-or-nothing thinking doesn’t work.

It’s like a pendulum. It has to be all one thing or not. It’s helpful for us to move away from that all-or-nothing thinking. It doesn’t have to be either-or. It can be both.

Junice Rockman, KUT, 7/29/2020
By the way, to make me positive, just show me a picture of my son and his little family. Aww. Photo shamelessly appropriated and used without permission.

And that’s it. We can be positive about one thing and negative about another, and they can coexist! These days a lot of us are having a hard time. We have lost jobs, are lonely, are sick, or upset by the news. That is absolutely okay, and it can’t hurt to also find what’s still pretty good. Really, isn’t life always this way?

Even in good times we have challenges. My goal is to have a healthy viewpoint and put my feelings into perspective. That means when I climb out of despair, I don’t run straight up Pollyanna Mountain! When I talk to people in my life, I’m going to mention things that bother me as well as things that bring joy.

And if someone judges me for veering off to one side or another, they may need to check for their own toxicity and cut me some slack. I’ll return the favor. My brain is too full to be all judgy right now. I love everybody who’s doing the best they can.

Now, onto the challenges of the day!

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!

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