Toxic Positivity: Roses Only Go So Far

Meg Hartley
Oct 17, 2020 · 2 min read
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A few years ago, everyone on the internet was all about #positivevibesonly, and I was fully on board. ⁠⠀
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It was the first year of being full-time debilitatingly ill, and I doused myself in positivity, making myself feel better via “I’ll heal by xx date” hopes, then hope would proceed to kick my fucking ass, over, and over, and over. For. Years.⁠⠀
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Trying to put roses on a shit sandwich results in losing touch with reality, setting ourselves up for disappointment.

And that’s when it’s our sandwich.⁠⠀
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When we put roses on someone else’s shit sandwich, it can be far more damaging — setting expectations that aren’t possible, leaving the person in shit feeling even worse, because now they’re letting others down too. It leaves hurting people feeling further diminished.⁠⠀
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And when it comes to chronic conditions, toxic positivity can be downright ableist. If someone shares their struggle with you, anything along the lines of, “It’s not that bad” isn’t helpful. At. All.⁠⠀
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If you’d been stuck in rain for hours, feeling cold and miserable, and were likely to stay there for years — would you feel better if someone said, “At least it’s not a blizzard?”⁠⠀
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Helpful positivity lifts up others, “You’ve come so far the last five years, and you’re working so hard. You’ve got lots of healing ahead, there’s no hurry, and I’ll be here.”⁠⠀
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On the other hand, toxic positivity is like a band-aid that’s just the sticker — “It doesn’t seem that bad to me, I bet you’re fine.” It hurts the wound further, ripping off healing when it’s revealed to be a farce.⁠⠀
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Looking for a silver lining is lovely. But never insist a highly-problematic cloud isn’t an issue. ⁠⠀

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Halcyon Musings

Heading towards utopia.

Meg Hartley

Written by

Neurodivergent writer. Growth junkie. Kindness advocate. Seen in HuffPo, Elephant Journal, MindBodyGreen, SheKnows, Ravishly, + more. HowILostAllMyF-cks.com ❤

Halcyon Musings

Words to inspire, improve, and re-imagine the way we live and connect.

Meg Hartley

Written by

Neurodivergent writer. Growth junkie. Kindness advocate. Seen in HuffPo, Elephant Journal, MindBodyGreen, SheKnows, Ravishly, + more. HowILostAllMyF-cks.com ❤

Halcyon Musings

Words to inspire, improve, and re-imagine the way we live and connect.

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