Me, toxic? How I’m learning to rein in too much positivity

My habitual bright side sometimes does more harm than good, I've learned

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by Jennifer Lynne |

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As someone who typically sees the glass half full, I’ve found myself to be the go-to adviser for my nephews, especially when they’re having a full-blown panic attack, which unfortunately seem to be increasingly common among young people, at least in my family. Whether they’re venting about their jobs or relationships, I’ve often defaulted to responses such as “Well, at least you have a job” or “What’s something you like about her?”

An article on toxic positivity, however, recently gave me pause for reflection. The behavior has been described as the belief that people should maintain a positive mindset regardless of how “dire or difficult” a situation may be.

It dawned on me that in my adviser role, I might be inadvertently spreading toxic positivity. I might have neglected to fully acknowledge my nephews’ feelings and experiences, instead jumping immediately to find the silver lining — which could invalidate their struggles.

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Noticing my self-talk

This realization prompted me to look in the mirror and examine my own self-talk, particularly during times when I grapple with complications stemming from my bleeding disorders: hemophilia B and von Willebrand disease. During a bleeding episode, I’ve often caught myself thinking such things as, “At least you don’t have severe hemophilia” or “At least you’re not going to die today.”

While these thoughts may offer a fleeting sense of relief, they ultimately fail to recognize the depth of my pain or the challenges I’m confronting in the present moment.

I’m realizing that striving for positivity in every situation can create unrealistic expectations of how life should be. Life is full of ups and downs, and it’s normal to experience a range of emotions in response to different situations. By promoting the idea that everything should always be positive, toxic positivity sets people up for disappointment and feelings of failure when they inevitably encounter challenges.

It’s not easy for me, but moving forward, I’m striving to adopt a more balanced approach that acknowledges the validity of both positive and negative emotions.

Rather than rushing to find the silver lining or dismiss my struggles, I’m learning to embrace the complexity of my feelings and experiences. When supporting my nephews, I’m making a conscious effort to validate their emotions before offering perspectives or solutions, fostering a more empathetic connection and genuine understanding.

Why dwell on the storm when you can dance in the rain? Let’s grab an umbrella and sit in the storm for a while, shall we? See, I’m getting the hang of this already.

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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