We all know the people that always try and put a positive spin on yours or another’s negative feelings. Do statements like “it’s not that bad” or “at least you didn’t experience…” sound familiar? It turns out never giving light to your negative feelings may not be so positive after all.
Toxic positivity. Ever heard of it? We hadn’t either. But after reading about it we know all too well that it’s real! In simple terms it’s what happens when you always try and remain positive and never give light to yours or another’s negative feelings. And during these incredibly trying times it’s especially prevalent. Many, if not all, of us are suffering as a result of the pandemic. We’ve lost loved ones. Our jobs. Our whole way of living.
And because we are all suffering to some degree, there is a sense of not being entitled to complain about it. Comments such as “it’s not that bad” or “at least you didn’t experience…” are classic examples of minimizing feelings. We’re all in the same boat, right? Wrong! We still need the opportunity to express our feelings of sadness, loss and anger to be able to move on. One of my favorite sayings is “if you don’t talk it out, you’ll act it out.” So, what can you do?
- Feel your negative emotions – We need to deal with our emotions when we feel them in order to be able to wholly move on. See above quote.
- Watch substance usage – Enjoying a glass of wine more days than not lately? You aren’t alone. Substance abuse has increased dramatically the past several months. Be careful of what happens when you take the substance away as the emotions come flooding back in.
- Connect with others – And this isn’t over text. Actual, genuine connections. Phone or Zoom calls are important. And if you are comfortable seeing people in person, putting together a small circle of those who can make you feel safe will go a long way.