• James McNeil

Toxic Positivity (part 1)

Toxic positivity. The phrase was foreign to me for years, but once I heard it and understood the meaning behind it, so many things made more sense. Have you ever dealt with toxic positivity? The kind of positivity that makes you feel worse for dealing with hardships? Toxic positivity tends to ignore the emotions you’re dealing with and devalues your problems.

But what does toxic positivity sound like? Here are some phrases that may sound positive or motivating but are typically toxic to a person struggling. Please note that these phrases are not toxic in and of themselves. It can depend on a lot of factors including the situation you were in at the time.

· “Everything happens for a reason.” When something bad happens, this one is usually tossed around quite a bit. It’s intended to uplift and comfort the person dealing with disappointment, but it can lead to finding someone to blame (the reason) and then to talk of “what goes around comes around.”

· “It’s not the worst thing in the world.” This is the worst thing to do with someone struggling. No matter how big the problem looks on the outside, this is still something that causes them to struggle, and saying anything that looks like a comparison can easily lead to impostor syndrome and making them feel guilty about their struggles.

· “Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.” I hate this phrase with a passion. This comes across as smug, and I can personally see no redeeming value for it. When you give someone advice, and they don’t take it, this phrase comes across as though you took them ignoring your advice personally. The last thing they need to hear is, “Well I tried to warn you.” They already feel bad enough. This phrase simply does not help.

That was three phrases that can come across as toxic positivity. Do you know of any? Let me know in the comments. Also please share this post to friends who need to know how they can help their friends struggling with bad situations.

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