Some Thoughts on “Toxic Positivity”
You can say the discussion and focus around gratitude is becoming such a popular concept in recent years, it’s beginning to envelop some of the same traits we see with “toxic positivity.”
For those less familiar with toxic positivity let me explain.
Toxic positivity is this idea, often displayed in the world of influencers (and social media in general), that we need to squash our true feelings down in order to maintain a positive outlook (when really, on the inside we are screaming – feeling far from fine). In the end, all of this hiding or fake emotion(s) leads to some serious mental and emotional pressure. Not the type of pressure that makes diamonds either. The type of pressure that causes a nuclear explosion!
Allow me to illustrate.
Throw all of your emotions, aside from happiness, in a sack.
Light that sack on fire. Dump that sack on your enemy’s doorstep, with the happy-little-hashtag #positivevibesonly.
As gratifying as it may be to see your enemy smashing a burning emotional-shit sack, with their new Nike Kicks, that’s not what’s happening.
This is the illusion that toxic positivity brings. The world may be crumbling around you, but you’re not allowing yourself to process it, because the most important thing is to be positive. Right? If you just choose positivity then depression doesn’t exist, right? You just choose.
Instead of lighting an emotion shit-bag on fire – let’s process it. Sit with our emotions. Tell ourselves it is okay to feel our feelings. Understand that this is life, and life is an emotional-scale of ups, downs, and sideways turns.
Thoughts on Gratitude
I wanted to discuss all of that, because I do believe there is a lot of room for emotional processing and gratitude to co-exist. Those things can be separated, and they very much should be.
Gratitude, when used properly, is like the skeleton key to the door life slams in your face. The problem is, when things become difficult, gratitude doesn’t come easily, and it’s often the last thing we turn to.
So, what if we could feel all of our feelings (good and bad) then somehow unearth a productive outcome. While certainly tragedies happen, and there isn’t much in relation to productive outcome to uncover.
I am not here to tell you to thank the earth, sky, and stars while your house is burning to ashes, and your dog is stuck in an apple-tree.
What I am here to share with you, from experience, is that practicing gratitude can help to turn a less-than-ideal situation better.
Gratitude can be the answer to positive perceptions. Gratitude can be the Pam Beesley to your Jim Halpert.
Here are some of my non-professional (but also über effective) insights that have helped me continue to practice gratitude even when it’s difficult.
Remember that gratitude & complacency do not come hand-in-hand.
It is a misconception that being grateful for what you have, and striving for more can not co-exist. There is no cap on determination. It is bonkers to think you can’t live in a place of both gratitude and a mind-set for higher achievements. Just remember, you set those goals for yourself. Achievement does not live in comparison.
Sometimes the things we can be most grateful for are the hardships we have put ourselves through. However, in order to be grateful for the outcomes or lessons learned, it is important to forgive ourselves for these mistakes. Life if full of them – truly.
This applies to others as well. Healing comes from forgiveness, and everyone has a lesson to teach us; but sometimes that lesson is merely an unrecognizable whisper. Until we forgive, the voice will never become clear.
Writing three things everyday that you are grateful for is becoming a popular prompt; and for good reason. I think it really comes down to being mindful. Most of us have a lot going on in our lives from the time we wake-up, until we finally crash at night. Sometimes, gratitude doesn’t even cross our minds. When we shift our focus on even one thing we can be thankful for it can change our mood.
Bonus! Here is a fun little exercise I created to help work that gratitude muscle. Practice these each day or pick and sit-down to journal some of your faves!
30 Days of Gratitude