What is Toxic Positivity?

Toxic positivity  (#Ad) is the belief that we should always maintain a positive outlook, even when we are struggling. Life can be hard, and bad things happen. People experience loss, pain, and challenges in their lives, and those problems should be acknowledged and not brightsided.

When bad things happen, it is important to acknowledge those for what they are. When people are struggling, It is not beneficial to pretend that their problems aren’t real or to minimize how harmful they are. 

The same is true with ourselves: we shouldn’t minimize our struggles or ignore them, trying to hide the pain behind a fake smile.

Top 12 Best Quotes from Whitney Goodman

“Toxic positivity is a cultural force that reinforces: “If you believe it you can achieve it!” “The only thing in your way is you!” “The key to success is a positive mindset!” “If you want to be healthy you must be positive!” “God will never give you more than you can handle!” … Toxic Positivity leaves us feeling alone, and disconnected. It stops us from communicating. It stifles creativity and change. It silences people. It labels things as “happiness inducing” and “happiness preventing.”” —  Whitney Goodman

“In my work, I’ve noticed that people with invisible illnesses or disabilities are scared of acting too positive because then people won’t believe that they’re sick. They’re afraid of being too negative because then they aren’t being strong or fighting hard enough. They can’t win.” ― Whitney Goodman

“Many researchers have argued that the use of toxic positivity in healthcare is unethical and even dangerous. It leads to unfounded assertions of confidence, implies a lack of empathy for the patient, and can cause people to make uninformed decisions about their health.” ― Whitney Goodman

“Live a life that challenges you, fulfills you, has meaning, and brings you moments of joy. Open yourself to all emotions and experiences. Discover what you value and follow it until the end, knowing that sometimes life is going to hurt and that’s what makes it worth living.” ― Whitney Goodman

“Healthy positivity means making space for both reality and hope. Toxic positivity denies an emotion and forces us to suppress it. When we use toxic positivity, we are telling ourselves and others that this emotion shouldn’t exist, it’s wrong, and if we try just a little bit harder, we can eliminate it entirely.” ― Whitney Goodman

“Not everything you do has to be about improving your health, your knowledge, your job, or your body. It’s OK to just be. There’s no finish line or trophy for being the most improved.” ― Whitney Goodman

“Shame Disguised as Positivity. So you lost your job, and your friend just told you that you shouldn’t be upset. The moment the words “At least . . .” left their mouth, the conversation was over. There was no more space for your emotions or your processing. You were being pulled into the land of positivity whether you were ready or not. So you shut down and tried to figure out how the heck you could become more grateful and positive without inconveniencing anyone with your stress, worry, or shame.” ― Whitney Goodman

“People often need to accept the reality of a situation before moving forward. Not all situations have a silver lining or a positive spin. Some things are just really, really hard, and that’s OK.” ― Whitney Goodman

“Directing someone to other resources or saying that you can’t help doesn’t mean that you don’t care or that you’re abandoning them. It means that you are trying your best to provide them with the right resources, while also giving yourself the ability to set limits and care for yourself.” ― Whitney Goodman

“Contrary to popular belief, there are no negative emotions. There are only emotions that are harder to experience or that cause more distress for certain people, and the more you suppress those emotions, the harder they are to manage.” ― Whitney Goodman

“You can’t think your way out of feeling. Understanding why someone did something hurtful won’t always make it hurt less. Developing an understanding of why something is happening and making those connections is important. Without awareness there is no change.” — Whitney Goodman

“Sometimes positivity is just denial.” — Whitney Goodman

‍(#Ad) Toxic Positivity: Keeping It Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy

12 quotes From Other authors about toxic positivity

“Toxic positivity is forced, false positivity. It may sound innocuous on the surface, but when you share something difficult with someone and they insist that you turn it into a positive, what they’re really saying is, My comfort is more important than your reality.” — Susan David

“Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” — Susan David

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” — Brené Brown

“We think that denying our emotions makes us stronger and more resilient, but the research shows that it actually makes us LESS resilient.” — Brené Brown

“Hope confronts. It does not ignore pain, agony, or injustice. It is not a saccharine optimism that refuses to see, face, or grapple with the wretchedness of reality. You can’t have hope without despair, because hope is a response. Hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word.” — Cory Booker

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” — Henri Nouwen

“Hope is a funny thing because in a way it’s everywhere. Like, people will say ‘Everything happens for a reason’ or ‘It will all work out in the end’ — which are very hopeful sentiments — it’s just that they’re also, you know, bullshit. And for me anyway, they just don’t hold up in the face of real suffering. But I’ll tell you what does hold up for me. There’s an Emily Dickinson poem that starts out, ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all.’
And you’ll notice that Emily Dickinson doesn’t say that one never stops hearing the song of hope — only that it doesn’t stop playing. I’m really sorry that you’re in so much pain, and your pain is real, but the song of hope is still singing. And I know you can’t hear it, but someday soon you will.”
— John Green

“I am highly suspicious of attempts to brightside human suffering, especially suffering that — as in the case of almost all infectious diseases — is unjustly distributed. I’m not here to criticize other people’s hope, but personally, whenever I hear someone waxing poetic about the silver linings to all these clouds, I think about a wonderful poem by Clint Smith called “When people say, ‘we have made it through worse before.’” The poem begins, “all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones / of those who did not make it.” As in Ibn Battuta’s Damascus, the only path forward is true solidarity — not only in hope, but also in lamentation.” — John Green

“Optimism doesn’t mean that you are blind to the reality of the situation. It means that you remain motivated to seek a solution to whatever problems arise.” — The Dalai Lama

“There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, ‘It’s all over, don’t bother trying to do anything, forget about voting, it won’t make a difference,’ and an optimist who says, ‘Relax, everything is going to turn out fine.’ Either way the results are the same. Nothing gets done.” — Yvon Chouinard

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” — Walt Disney

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

About the Book

‍(#Ad) Toxic Positivity: Keeping It Real in a World Obsessed with Being Happy is a powerful guide to owning our emotions—even the difficult ones—in order to show up authentically in the world

Every day, we’re bombarded with pressure to be positive. From “good vibes only” and “life is good” memes, to endless advice, to “look on the bright side,” we’re constantly told that the key to happiness is silencing negativity wherever it crops up, in ourselves and in others. Even when faced with illness, loss, breakups, and other challenges, there’s little space for talking about our real feelings—and processing them so that we can feel better and move forward.

But if all this positivity is the answer, why are so many of us anxious, depressed, and burned out?

In this refreshingly honest guide, sought-after therapist Whitney Goodman shares the latest research along with everyday examples and client stories that reveal how damaging toxic positivity is to ourselves and our relationships, and presents simple ways to experience and work through difficult emotions. The result is more authenticity, connection, and growth—and ultimately, a path to showing up as you truly are (Amazon).


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