I’m tired of everyone needing good vibes only, all the time.
It’s irrational and unhealthy to think that everything has to be positive and up, high, cheerful.
We are a culture obsessed with happiness at all costs.
Toxic positivity is the belief that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. Toxic positivity can be defined as the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations. The process of toxic positivity results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.
Common expressions of toxic positivity:
- Hiding/Masking your true feelings.
- Trying to “just get on with it” by stuffing or dismissing an emotion.
- Feeling guilty for feeling what you feel.
- Minimizing other people’s experiences with “feel good” quotes or statements.
- Trying to give someone perspective instead of validating their emotional experience (“It could be worse”).
- Shaming or chastising others for expressing frustration or anything other than positivity.
- Brushing off things that are bothering you with “It is what it is.”
My parents cannot handle any negativity.
My husband cannot handle any negativity.
I’ve been told multiple times that I am not to complain or blame for anything. So what they’re telling me is to suck it up, that they refuse to apologize, admit any wrongs, or make any amends or changes.
For my parents, this means that they found a therapist to confirm they were ideal parents, did no wrong, and that I am the problem, an ungrateful child. I was never abused. I am delusional. They’re so sorry they didn’t love me the way I wanted. They refuse to make amends. They have no relationship with my kids, their only grandchildren.
For my husband, he just sighs whenever I lodge any complaint whatsoever, whether it’s about a dirty counter or coffee cup left in the living room or something more important. He is in absolute denial that he was ever abused by anyone, ever, and maybe he did have an idyllic childhood, but he can’t express himself as an adult. He has severe alexithymia. He bottles up everything and cannot have a conversation about really anything. He has no friends and no interests. He would rather take prescription meds for depression and live in denial that he has ADHD or anxiety symptoms nor will he admit he needs to make any attempt to improvements in his relationships with me and the kids.
I am not a pessimistic person. I am a realist. I have spent years trying to heal and be emotionally healthy. Often, I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall because my parents and husband just cruise along, oblivious to almost everything in the world, and certainly oblivious to relationship struggles.
I am utterly alone.
I am trying to raise four children with healthy emotions.
This means that we feel all the feels. Sometimes, that is triggering for adults who can’t relate to their own inner turmoil. We have to sit with our feelings and name them and understand them. We can’t just push them down or lash out at others.
I’m so tired of feeling angry or sad all the time because my needs aren’t met.
I’m exhausted from the toll my emotional labor takes when I have to remember all the things and I can never, ever drop one ball for even a moment.
Don’t wish me happinessAnne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
I don’t expect to be happy all the time…
It’s gotten beyond that somehow.
Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.
I will need them all.
Too many of us have been taught that we can’t show any “negative” emotions. Our society loves positivity. There are books and blogs and shows about how to be happy. We are conditioned by school and church and work environments always to look on the bright side and paste on a smile, especially women.
What can we say instead of “negative” emotions?
We can use words like “painful, unpleasant, and difficult” to describe emotions that express frustration, anger, or sorrow.
Or we can use:
- Uncomfortable emotions
- Emotions we like to avoid
- Less preferred emotions
Feelings are just…feelings. Emotions are generally neutral and we as a society define them to a spectrum of good or bad, positive or negative.
I understand that constant complaining is hard to be around. It sucks the energy out of you. That’s a whole other issue to work through, but being told to think more positively isn’t helpful.
I’m not saying we should give in to depression, but neither should we always look on the bright side of things to our detriment.
We need to talk more about our feelings. We need to teach our children what feelings are so they can name them, feel them, process them, and move on. We can’t continue to be scared of anger or sadness.
So many of us were abused as children and we just thought this was normal. And it was just so normalized that we didn’t know to question it. Everyone was humiliated at school and at home. Our peers modeled what they learned from the adults in our lives.
We have generations of people who grew up and weren’t allowed or taught to feel their emotions. Now, they’re adults with alexithymia or other inabilities to process their emotions and this affects all their relationships and creates issues at work and in their families and friendships.
You can’t appreciate the highs without the lows.
We need societal healing with all our feelings.
This article sure hit home: 10 Things You Won’t Remember Experiencing If You Had Toxic Parents
What is it to be hopeful and not optimistic? The American novelist Barbara Kingsolver explains it this way: “I have been thinking a lot lately about the difference between being optimistic and being hopeful. I would say that I’m a hopeful person, although not necessarily optimistic. Here’s how I would describe it. The pessimist would say, ‘It’s going to be a terrible winter; we’re all going to die.’ The optimist would say, ‘Oh, it’ll be all right; I don’t think it’ll be that bad. The hopeful person would say, ‘Maybe someone will still be alive in February, so I’m going to put some potatoes in the root cellar just in case.’ … Hope is ….a mode of resistance…. a gift I can try to cultivate.”Joan Halifax
- Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
- Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman
- Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters by Susan Forward
- Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration by Karen C.L. Anderson
- I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman
- Recovering from Narcissistic Mothers: A Daughter’s Guide by Brenda Stephens
- Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride
- Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself by Shahida Araby
- Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents: Practical Tools to Establish Boundaries and Reclaim Your Emotional Autonomy by Lindsay C. Gibson
- Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
- The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff
- The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron
- The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them by Elaine N. Aron
- The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner
- The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate by Harriet Lerner
- The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris
You might also like:
- I Tried Therapy
- Breaking the Cycle of Negativity
- Grieving Family Who Are Still Alive
- Emotional Health
- Dealing with Disappointment
- I’m Angry
- I am not insignificant
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