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Toxic Positivity

Why Toxic Positivity Can Miss the Mark in Relationships

We’re often told to “stay positive,” but what happens when positivity turns toxic?

Enter the concept of “Toxic Positivity,” a mindset that aims to brush aside negative emotions with an all-encompassing positive outlook. While optimism has its merits, it’s crucial to recognize when this approach can unintentionally create a disconnect in our relationships.

Think about it: have you ever felt like your emotions weren’t truly acknowledged, but rather replaced with a forced smile and an “it’ll be fine” attitude? Toxic Positivity can inadvertently invalidate genuine feelings and create a misalignment in how we relate to others.

Brene Brown, the renowned vulnerability researcher, shares a story that encapsulates this dilemma. Imagine an elephant offering shade to a mouse while a fox tries to distract the mouse from its discomfort. The elephant represents being present and empathetic, whereas the fox embodies the toxic urge to deflect emotions.

Even the most well-intentioned “Miss Positivos” like myself have learned that relentless positivity isn’t always the solution, especially with loved ones. I have even had to learn the hard way that it can often do more harm than good.

So, how can we foster healthier connections?

Lend an Open Ear:
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is listen without trying to fix or flip the script. Let’s be elephants, offering comfort through presence.

Curious Questions:
Swap unsolicited advice for open-ended questions. Asking “Tell me more” or “Can you share an example?” opens up space for authentic conversations.

Embrace Vulnerability:
Instead of striving for constant positivity, encourage vulnerability. Letting someone express their struggles fosters deeper connections.

Genuine Empathy:
Show you care by acknowledging emotions sincerely. Even acknowledging someone’s pain is often more meaningful than immediate positivity.

Mindful Positivity:
Positivity is beautiful, but let’s use it mindfully. Offer encouragement while respecting the space for authentic feelings. In a world where authenticity is key, embracing vulnerability and being present are the bridges to genuine connections. Sometimes, being an elephant offering shade can mean more than being a fox trying to chase discomfort away. So, let’s balance our optimism

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