Avoiding Toxic Positivity

Being positive about your money is important, but there is a line that can actually be more harmful than helpful. Here's how to identify it.

From “positive vibes only” to “no bad days”, we are flooded with phrases that are meant to spread positivity. While these phrases can be comforting to some people, they are often just a form of telling us what we would like to hear. This creates the concept of toxic positivity, which ultimately becomes more harmful than helpful.

We’re not Debbie Downers (haha, get it 🤣), but we do believe that you can overdo it on the positive vibes.

So, What is Toxic Positivity 🧐?

Toxic positivity is the obsession with positive thinking, enforcing the belief that people should put a positive spin on all situations (even those that are deeply tragic). This kind of positivity exhibits false reassurance- silencing negative emotions and demeaning grief.

Here are some examples of toxic positivity ⬇️:

  • Saying “everything will work out” or “everything happens for a reason” after a tragic event
  • Brushing off someones or your own worries by saying “it could be worse” or “look on the bright side”
  • Telling someone to get over their grief in order to “focus on the positive things in life”
  • Feeling guilty or being hard on yourself when feeling negative emotions
  • Brushing off things that are bothering you with “it is what it is”

What’s Wrong with Toxic Positivity 🤔?

Toxic positivity engraves us with the idea that negative emotions are bad. This often leads to a forceful and unrealistic wave of only positive feelings, invalidating the way that we as humans authentically experience emotions - see this report on Healthline to learn more. When you are fed toxic positivity throughout a stage of grief, sadness, or a tragic event, the repercussions can be long-lasting and harm your healing.

Carolyn Karoll, a licensed psychotherapist, says that “The pressure to appear ‘OK’ invalidates the range of emotions we all experience. Judging yourself for feeling pain, sadness, jealousy - which are part of the human experience - leads to what are referred to as secondary emotions, such as shame, that are much more intense.”

Toxic Positivity & Debt Management 💳

It’s true, debt freedom and debt management can be a long, stressful, lonely journey. Feelings and thoughts associated with managing your debts are often negative, and that’s ok. If I were to guess, no one says “YAY! DEBT!!!”.

Let yourself feel however you feel about your debts. Whether that’s shame, sadness, pain, etc. Just feel it.

Try to join a support group with those who have been in your same shoes. Most of the time, it is easier to gain advice and support from someone who has been through it before.

How Do You Avoid Toxic Positivity? 🙅‍♂️

  1. Let yourself feel your emotions:
  2. Part of being a healthy human is being conscious of ourselves and our feelings. When you try to numb your authentic emotions with positivity or other temporary solutions, you create a vicious cycle and are just putting a band aid on a wound. Instead, take the time and space you need to just let yourself feel.
  3. Listen to how other’s feel- even if it is different than how you feel:
  4. Everyone is entitled to having different emotions. Acknowledge that other people may not cope with things the same way you do. Listen to them, be supportive, and avoid toxic positivity phrases at all costs.
  5. Recognize toxic positivity messages
  6. What makes toxic positivity toxic is the suggestion that positivity is the only route to happiness. Don’t engage with it.

Examples of Non-Toxic & Accepting Statements

Check out this chart for examples of non-toxic and accepting statements ➡️

Non-Toxic & Accepting Statements

Positivity Has a Time & Place 💚

Positivity itself isn’t bad by any means, it’s only harmful when it’s strongly encouraged to where you dismiss your own or others emotions. Thinking with a positive mindset has a time and place. When you or others are enduring a stage of sadness or grief, always allow yourself to feel things and listen to others with validation and acceptance.

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