Don’t worry. Be happy. These are catchy words but sometimes unhelpful advice! In the midst of a tough time, being told to ‘look for the silver lining’ can just make you feel worse.
Sometimes life is challenging. Disappointing. Difficult. Hard. Scary. Sad. Upsetting even.
So, can good come from situations that make us feel bad? Absolutely!
Firstly though, we need to feel the feelings, recognise and own them in fact. In a culture that celebrates positivity, the over-generalisation to think positive to every situation can be harmful as it denies us the full human experience. We need these experiences to grow and learn.
Introducing toxic positivity! This is a fairly new phenomenon. It has evolved almost directly from the ‘good life’ or ‘perfection’ of social media images and the rise of mental health awareness.
Opening apps like Instagram, we are almost immediately bombarded with meaningful positivity quotes, which tell you that “Happiness Is A Mood. Positivity Is A Mindset” or “Good Vibes Attract Good Lives”. I’m sure these quotes are posted with good intentions, but are our attempts to cheer up every person actually acts of toxic positivity? I would like to point out that you cannot often cure mental illness with positivity alone, just as you cannot usually cure a physical illness with a healthy lifestyle alone……..
So let’s concentrate on validation and positively moving forward instead. Helping someone to focus on their preferred future and how they want things to be is more beneficial. Taking small, incremental steps towards a goal and making the desired changes to achieve them will be far more long lasting and effective.