So I have been challenged by the bombardment in my social feeds with toxic positivity, especially in the music scene by well meaning artists or in the industry (this is not limited to art and creative spaces, I hear it a lot in the fitness industry and even the spiritual types use this language). You will hear or see statements such as, “Everything happens for a reason”, “Failure is not an option”, “Other people have it worse”, and “You’ll get over it”, and it’s a bit overwhelming, to say the least.
Toxic positivity refers to the idea of always looking on the bright side and insisting on being positive in any situation, even when it is not appropriate or helpful. While positivity is generally a good thing, toxic positivity can actually be harmful, as it can lead to people feeling like their struggles and negative emotions are not valid and can even prevent them from seeking help.
Instead of promoting toxic positivity, it is important to prioritise authenticity and letting people be seen and heard. This means acknowledging and validating negative emotions and creating a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves honestly.
To promote authenticity, we can:
Listen actively and without judgement: When someone expresses their feelings, it is essential to listen and show that you understand and care. Avoid dismissing or minimising their emotions.
Normalise negative emotions: Everyone sometimes experiences negative emotions, and it is okay to not be okay. By acknowledging and normalising these emotions, we can create a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves honestly.
Offer practical support: Sometimes, people just need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. Other times, they may need more practical support, such as help with tasks or access to resources.
By prioritising authenticity and letting people be seen and heard, we can create a more compassionate and supportive world where people feel empowered to express themselves honestly and seek the help they need.