Sooooooo, set your purse down, grab some of my soup of the day (champagne), and join me over here on my e-couch. It’s been waaay too long and we desperately need to catch UP!
As you know, my IG niche is lifestyle with a big emphasis on female empowerment, self-care, and motherhood. Why? Because I am THE person who easily neglects s e l f to care for others, i.e. family. IG is essentially a platform that functions as a stage to share, but also as my own self-reflective mini therapy sessions. Go figure…its free and fun…why not!?
Recently, I stumbled upon an article, What To Do About Toxic Positivity—The Worst Type Of Advice We Give & Get by Jenn Selby. I must say the guilt immediately flooded my thoughts after reading the final sentence. So, let’s get real with each other. Let me fill you in with the nuts and bolts instead of a Bryant Gumbel play-by-play of Selby’s article. Bascially, Instagram is saturated with positivity: quotes, inspiring messages, motivational memes, cute cat videos, etc. While it’s lovely to know the sun will come out tomorrow, being so stinkin’ positive isn’t necessarily the most beneficial way to be of service to others. Sweeping negative emotions under life’s rug to focus on the good, stops people from expressing their truth. Selby calls it “toxic positivity.” I call it, my adult life. Probably, one of the main reasons I should see an actual therapist…but I digress.
The typical canned responses: “It could be worse,” “There’s something better on the way,” “But, what’s the silver lining here?” can make those cheerleaders sound unrealistic, disingenuous, and (insert any word that physically equates to an eye-roll). Hold on. I know what you’re over there thinking. Yes, these responses are all apart of my repertoire of friend language! (But, excuse me…let’s revisit our friendly reminder—this is a no judgment zone). Back to the recap. According to the experts, this type of harmless cheerleading makes people dread sharing their newest hiccups with you. Instead, they’d rather keep it to themselves, bottled up inside, which simply breeds all things bad for the mental health of human beings.
Nobody can rid anybody of their problems with happy talk. Instead, offer folks a space to validate their feelings, normalize their problems, and just listen (zip.it.com). People are seeking help and support, they usually aren’t waiting for you to sprinkle positivity dust to rid them of their problems. We have to honor both our good and bad feelings and just sit with it. The bad ones give us vital information such as how to assess our safety, if we should challenge ourselves to accomplish something new, or if we should pause and focus on the now. Use those negative emotions to grow coping skills and resiliency for those future imminent low points that are an unavoidable part of daily life.
What did I learn from Selby’s article? I will be adding more to my IG to acknowledge all feelings, be a resource, and communicate with more empathy. I can’t solve your problems, but I can offer similar experiences or feelings by highlighting my own and providing validation that your negative thoughts are OK.
When you know better, you do better. Stay tuned, IG tribe! #alwaysgrowing
*P.S. Check out this animated video by Brené Brown. Empathy goes a long way when someones feeling “stuck in a hole.”