Wellness Wednesday: Toxic Positivity
More often than not, cliche pep talk phrases are used when talking to our friends who are sad. And while our intentions might be good, these positive phrases often dismiss what people are going through, and are a form of toxic positivity.
Needless to say, there are certain phrases and notions to avoid when talking to someone who is going through a hard time.
Life is full of ups and downs and our emotional state is a result of both, according to Lauren English, who is a licensed professional counselor and business development representative with Pinnacle Pointe Hospital. She says that being able to recognize the highs and lows in our mental state is important to our emotional growth.
Toxic positivity can be harmful and is dismissive, invalidating what a person is going through.
English offers some helpful phrases that we can adopt instead.
- That must be really hard.
- I’m sorry you’re going through this.
- That sounds really hard, and you’re going through a lot. How can I support you?
All of these phrases honor what is being said, and validates our friends’ feelings. Common alternatives to these phrases, such as “everything happens for a reason,” make it sound like bad things are supposed to happen to you and can make people who share their feelings feel guilty. However, these phrases offer support and encouragement through the acknowledgment of emotional validity. As a result, these phrases offer more stability and emotional comfortability.