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What Is Toxic Positivity?

Melli O'Brien



Melli O'Brien



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What Is Toxic Positivity?

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today, we're going to talk about

the idea of toxic positivity.

So this term 'toxic positivity'

is it refers to an unhelpful

fixation with positive thinking

and pleasant, emotional states.

For instance, a person may try to

appear happy all the time and put

a positive spin on all experiences,

even those that might be deeply

painful, traumatic, or even tragic.

So they might do this with themselves,

putting pressure on themselves to

pretend to be happy, even when they're

really struggling, but also with others.

So they might tell someone who's

grieving or really heartbroken to

just get past it and look at the

positive side of their situation.

So what happens with toxic

positivity is it often suppresses

authentic, emotional expression.

It demeans grief, makes people

feel under pressure to hide

what their true experience is.

Now I'd like to also acknowledge here

that of course, positive thinking can be

wonderful, empowering, and strengthening.

It's really wonderful to focus

your thoughts on things like

gratitude and the goodness in other

people, yourself and the world.

And, you know, a generally positive

outlook in life is a helpful thing.

However, it's when we start to

believe that we should be positive

all the time, in all situations

that things become problematic.

We might actually ignore serious issues

in ourselves and also in our lives.

And sometimes, you know, the, the reality

is we're just not doing okay in some way.

And seeing and acknowledging that

really clearly is often the catalyst

for healing and the beginning of change.

So when we demand positivity from other

people, from our loved ones, instead

of giving them understanding, empathy

and compassion, we may also make them

feel quite stigmatized and judged.

So the point here is just to know that

while positivity can be really helpful in

some situations in life, it's really not

a panacea for all of life's challenges.

Because the reality is, is that

we humans do feel a wide range

of emotions, each of which is an

important part of human experience.

The part of what it actually means,

you know, to live a full, rich and

meaningful human life means that we need

to allow ourselves to experience the

full spectrum of human emotion as well.

And in the harder times, it's

compassion, authenticity, and kindness

that are our really good companions.

As researcher and author, Brené Brown

said, you know, "What we know now from

the research is that when we deny our

emotions, they tend to own us, but when

we can own our emotions, we can rebuild

and find a way forward through the pain.

So here are some ways to avoid toxic

positivity, a few tips, if you will.

One is to remind yourself that

unpleasant emotions are just as

important and natural a part of the

human experience as pleasant ones.

Another thing is that when unpleasant

emotions arise, one thing you can do

is just mentally name them to yourself.

So, this is a way of acknowledging

that they're there and a sort of

helpful way to honor them and meet

them with compassion rather than

ignoring them or pushing them away.

Another way to avoid toxic positivity is

to seek support from trusted people when

you're struggling and talk to them and

open up about what you're going through.

And lastly, giving empathy and care to

someone who's hurting rather than trying

to fix or change them is really valuable.

Really giving them compassion,

just focusing on that.

I hope these tips are helpful for

you going forward in your life.

And as always, thank you for your

practice and your presence here.

Let's settle in for today's meditation.

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