I recently decided to start a podcast to explore the topic of Truth. In my mind as I currently have it, this will be a six-part series entirely focused on the workings of the inner voice. Below is the transcript for episode 5. You can listen to the episode on Spotify, or by clicking here.
Transcript to the Podcast:
Episode 5: Toxic Positivity
Hello. This is Always Say the Unsaid, This is episode 5 of a 6 part series on exploring truth and what it means to be truthful to ourselves, first and foremost.
I’ve discussed various topics over the course of these past few episodes, and focused a lot on what truthfulness is. Today I want to talk about one thing that truthfulness is not: Positivity. I get a little heated on this subject, ironically, because it touches a nerve. And because it touches a nerve, I know it’s a relevant topic to discuss.
I think that when it comes to the law of attraction and manifestation, etc, people generally believe they need to be positive about everything so as to not scare away the things they are trying to attract. Fine. Sure, Makes sense. But when that belief transitions over to a denial of reality, ignoring what actually is for the sake of “being positive,” this creates what is commonly known as toxic positivity. And make no mistake, toxic positivity is an obstacle standing between us and truth.
What happens when you deny yourself something that you want? It hardens and fixates and becomes even more ingrained: it gains mass. Whether you’re ignoring a craving for a bag of chips, or ignoring your feelings about a comment by a colleague that grates the wrong way, denying its existence only makes it a bigger thing than it originally was. The craving becomes bigger. The irritation intensifies. When you acknowledge the craving head on, it’s easier to let it go. When you acknowledge your feelings about the comment, the comment itself loses import, and the weight of the words will lighten.
What I’m trying to say is this– if your house is on fire, you can ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening, but you will die if you do. If you open your eyes and acknowledge the reality of your situation, maybe you will lose a bunch of stuff in the process, maybe it will be painful, but you can get yourself out of the house and survive.
Toxic positivity is to me a form of denial. It’s pretending things are not what they really are, pretending the house is not actually on fire. It’s ignoring reality, or trying to sugar coat the truth. Toxic positivity is equal to toxic negativity in that way– two opposing ends of a spectrum that bring the same result, a distortion of truth, a removal from authenticity. An illusion of a reality that is far from the truth.
Inauthentic positivity will not bring you closer to Source, or increase your chances with the laws of attraction. In fact, the opposite will occur.
And yet, so many people absolutely insist on blind positivity, to the point that they spread this belief into other people’s lives, and become incapable of sincere compassion around other people’s hurts. I find this so frustrating, because not only do they choose to deny themselves the benefit of being truthful about their own emotional landscape, but they also try to make other people do the same. We can’t all be ostriches with our heads in the sand…… this is simply not a healthy way to exist.
There are 2 examples that come to mind with toxic positivity in my life.
One happened when I was a new mom. My first baby was my most difficult, and being a new mom I was very emotionally invested in trying to be perfect. But it was hard, and I was very honest about how hard it was. I was told to “just enjoy it”, that “they don’t stay young forever”, and “you’ll miss these days when they’re older”… all that stuff. I wasn’t experienced enough to tell the people saying this stuff to shove it. I was not experienced enough to know that I was allowed to have all these feelings. I thought maybe I was doing it wrong, that I wasn’t a good enough mom. People were demanding that I be positive, rather than realistic about what I was feeling, and it made me feel worse… telling me to be positive had the opposing effect on me emotionally. It’s because of this experience that I became a huge promoter of self-care for mothers, because I recognized too late how much I needed to be in charge of my own self-care.
In another circumstance, I was experiencing some difficulties in the workplace that were beyond your average workplace frustrations. Sexism was one. Having a supervisor that crossed a line on all the -isms, that was a big issue. Being witness to ethical violations, these issues were fairly major to me. However the company culture encouraged this toxic positivity. Anytime I tried to speak openly about any of these issues, I wasn’t heard, and instead the reaction made me feel like I was complaining. And even when each individual issue was brought to a head, to the point when it could no longer be swept under the rug, I was still not able to discuss them. I was told to just move on as though these issues never existed to begin with.
I admit that at the point in my life where these experiences occurred, it was easy for me to feel like a victim and lean toward the negative. I hadn’t quite learned that I was responsible for my own feelings, that no one could make me feel a certain way without my permission. Had these circumstances happened now, maybe things would be different. But I found myself in situations where all I needed was an ear to hear me speak my reality, and what I received in return was deafness. So many people have this same experience, and the end result is greater hurt. A denial of the human experience. Disconnection and suffering.
Toxic positivity is hurtful, disrespectful, and also, avoidable. The anti-dote is simply awareness.
There are two main points that I would like to make when it comes to Positivity, in and of itself.
First, and please hear me on this, a person can be both grateful for what they have, and have feelings about that thing at the same time. A mom can love her kids to bits and pieces, and still hide in a closet and cry over how hard parenting can be. A person can have a conflict at work, and still love their job and be grateful for their employment. I can love my life and be so grateful each and every day for my blessings, and still have moments where I just need to say Fuuuuuuuuucccckkkkk, and have someone give me an ear or a shoulder to lean on. This is all a part of the experience of being human, and these two things, gratitude and humanness, are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes we just have a bad day. It doesn’t mean we hate life.
Second, and this is also very important, positivity is actually what we want to aspire to. Positivity is actually a better place from which to live our lives. It’s healthier, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But it needs to be natural, it needs to be authentic. The best way to achieve natural, authentic positivity is to accept and acknowledge what is real in our lives. To avoid denial. To actually deal with our shit. When we look feelings in the face, actually see them head on, then we can also acknowledge where they come from, and we can more readily let them go, and this is the birthplace of natural positivity. Why? Because this is us acknowledging our most truthful selves.
And there it is, ladies and gentlemen, the purpose of this podcast in a nutshell.
Next time I would like to talk about consciousness, which is my new favourite word. It will possibly be my most woo-woo podcast yet, and, also, the most true to myself podcast yet. I will be exercising courage, and digging deep from within. And perhaps, for the first time, voicing the true unsaid within me that I keep carefully guarded. I do believe that the inner voice is always the first to say the unsaid.
Until next time.