- Megan Stapelberg
The trap of toxic positivity
Having a positive outlook on life is important in today's world. Many things are happening around us that are concerning, frustrating and sad. When you are faced with a situation that upsets you, how do you deal with it? Do you brush it away and tell yourself that everything will be okay, that you just need to stay positive?
If you perhaps do and think as described above, you might be engaging in toxic positivity. The reason why it is toxic, is because you push aside the feelings related to the distress/challenge that you are currently facing. Perhaps you even want to deny the feelings that come up for you and rather just tell yourself something positive instead.
Positivity is powerful, indeed! Choosing to be optimistic and grateful are both great ways to deal with stressors in life. Denying your feelings, not facing them and giving them space is however, not helpful at all.
It is important to strike a balance between acknowledging feelings such as frustration, anger, sadness, loneliness, grief etc. and to sit with it, allow yourself to feel it and then move on with a positive and optimistic spirit. Resisting these feelings and just telling yourself to be positive instead, will only make these feelings persist.
Have you perhaps also brushed over your children or partner's feelings with toxic positivity? Challenge yourself to create space for them the next time they share their feelings with you. Sit with them for a while and allow them to share what they experience. Listen with empathy and care and be in the moment with them. You do not have to have a solution for them in that moment, just listen and be there.
Are you a parent and you think you sometimes fall in the trap of toxic positivity? Join my monthly South African expat/guardian online support group to discuss and share your experiences of being an expat parent.