On being told to be positive: or how to stifle emotional growth

I receive regular posts from Flipboard and quite often there’ll be an article that demands closer reading. Today was such a day. The article was by Jenn Selby and came from ‘Refinery 29’ of 25 October 2019. The title?
What to Do About Toxic Positivity – The Worst Type of Advice We Give & Get

For me this was particularly relevant as I had posted a blog about the subject back in May, Do catchy one-liners aimed at making you ‘Feel Better’ actually make you feel worse? In June I followed this with Gaslighting – it’s way more scary than the film.

Jenn Selby explains that ‘toxic positivity’ polarises positive and negative emotions into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to react to life events. It seems to be a fairly modern phenomenon. And like many modern phenomenon, not necessarily healthy. She goes on to describe it as ‘a sort of unintentional gaslighting’ that will actually prevent individuals from saying how they feel. Double whammy for truthful expression and emotional resilience.
Sometimes a ‘Get over it!’ might be way more helpful long-term than ‘Give it time – you’ll be fine.’ Best of all though is just listening. Not ‘just listening’ in the sense of just hearing the words and letting them wash over you. I mean listening in a way that allows you to hear what is behind and within the words without planning your next response or what advice you’ll give.

I’d already read a blog post this morning that had me raring for a rant. It was another attempt to polarise, this time about medication and meditation, in suggesting people do not need their medication; it was tantamount to playing god.

Have you been told that things aren’t that bad? That better prospects are on the horizon? That you’re worth so much more? How did it make you feel? Did your inner voice say ‘Yep, you’re probably right’ or ‘Get back behind your rose-coloured glasses; you’re not where I am.’

We should be allowed to own our feelings – high and low, negative and positive. Few are dragged under by personal setback no matter how catastrophic at the time; many are destroyed trying to adhere to a fatuous premise that negativity is the behemoth.

If you would like to read my other posts mentioned here, please check them out at:
On Catchy one-liners: https://marilynunmasked.blog/2019/05/20/catchy-one-liners-not-making-you-feel-better/
On Gaslighting: https://marilynunmasked.blog/2019/06/10/gaslighting-its-way-more-scary-than-the-film/

If any of this strikes a chord with you – please share your thoughts and feelings on this very prevalent aspect of our society. Thank you for reading my words. I’d love to read yours.

Being creative is the mainstay of my life, and poetry, prose, and photography is where I express my deepest emotions. I also enjoy the challenge of design and create jewellery, fabric bags, and garments and home items in yarn. Diagnosed with ASD at the age of 68 after fifty years in and out of the mental health system, I now aim to explore and share my experiences over these years. Apart from blogs and short articles I'll share my life in my verse and images.

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