Very often a person living with a mental illness can find themselves surrounded by people who try to deny, invalidate or minimize their feelings and emotions.
It takes great strength and courage to share our very raw emotions with others, especially someone we trust implicitly; even if we know in our heart that it’s not what they may want to hear.
When we deny, invalidate or minimize someone else their feelings of sadness, grief or fear by dismissing their negative thoughts or human experiences and although it may very well be coming from a good place or be well-intentioned, responses such as “just be positive”, “stop being so negative”, “think happy thoughts”, “you don’t look sad”, “others have it worse”, “everything happens for a reason” or “just be grateful for what you have” lack a sense of empathy.
This is referred to as “Toxic Positivity”.
Yes, having a positive attitude and outlook are great but what happens when your toxic positivity denies, invalidates or minimizes someone else their feelings of sadness or fear or even their time to morn?
What will likely happen is it will cause a false sense of reassurance and lead to feelings of disconnect if the other person is unwilling or too uncomfortable to sit with you in your time of grief, your fear, your sadness or even your anger.
Sadly, and oftentimes these same people who deny, invalidate and minimize other people’s feelings with toxic positivity, whether we realize it or not are often doing the same exact thing to themselves. Trying to avoid dealing with your own negative emotions and experiences by denying them, invalidating them or minimizing them will only bury them for so long and lead to a further negative impact on your own mental health as well.
Whether we truly believe that we are comforting another person’s negative emotions or trying to suppress our own difficult feelings by overgeneralizing a situation is simply an ineffective and unhealthy approach to helping someone to feel better.
We need to learn to embrace all of our emotions and those around us too, even the negative ones. We need to learn how to support others when they share their raw emotions with us. We need to learn how to change the conversation to allow a person to feel safe and heard by asking them if they want to talk about how they are feeling; make them feel validated, let them know you are listening.
And lastly, just as a gentle reminder… know that no matter what, it’s okay to feel sad sometimes, to grieve in your own way, to be scared or even angry; these are real emotions and don’t let anyone deny you of them, invalidate them or minimize them because it’s more than okay to always be your true authentic self.
#toxicpositivity #validation #agentlereminder #beyourself #itsoktonotbeok #kindnessisfree #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #ourmentalhealthmatters #youarenotalone #youareenough