What Happens When Positivity Turns Toxic

Please stop telling people a smile will turn their day around

Suzanna Quintana
The Virago

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Photo by Ángel López on Unsplash

Fresh out of an abusive marriage, a newly pinned PTSD diagnosis on my lapel, and anxiety so severe I stayed home for the better part of a year, I was walking trauma in human form.

You know that feeling when you have the flu and your body is so sensitive that even the slightest touch can hurt?

That was me — and the slight touch was someone telling me to smile because it would make me feel better.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

Instead, it made me feel worse since a) I knew only how to fake smiles back then to hide my pain, and b) it dismissed my experience.

Along with being told, “Look on the bright side” or “Happiness is a choice,” I felt shame in the labeling of my emotions as bad.

At the time, I was oblivious to this kind of gaslighting by people who feel compelled to spread their so-called positivity wherever they see fit.

These “good vibes only” folks, however, aren’t actually spreading any good vibes. And I for one am tired of being on the receiving end of people who can’t see past the end of their own advice.

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Suzanna Quintana
The Virago

My voice is my superpower. Editor-in-Chief of The Virago. Founder of The Online Sanctuary for Healing After Narcissistic Abuse. www.suzannaquintana.com