“It is OK, to not be OK…but if you are not OK most of the time, that is not OK.” Make sense?
Two years ago, when someone said to me, “This too shall pass”. I glared at the condescending smirk on their face and wanted to smack it off. I’m not a violent person (I wasn’t really going to hit them) but their words frustrated me, all I could hear was, “Come on Jasmine, put your big girl panties on, it could be worse.”
They didn’t know the specifics of what I was going through, I didn’t need to hear their positivity thrown at me like I was a three year old throwing a tantrum. At that moment I was upset, sad, frustrated and wanted to cry. And that is exactly what I did! I was in no mood to be positive and I didn’t need someone telling me otherwise.
Did you know there is actually a phrase for being TOO positive, it’s called toxic positivity. Dr. Jamie Long defines toxic positivity as, “Excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy optimist state across all situations. The process of toxic positivity results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.”
In layman terms, if you are having a bad day and you don’t want to start the day with a positive affirmation or writing down 10 things you are grateful for…that is 100% OK! The idea that we should only focus on positive emotions and the positive aspects of life is just living a phony life.
“I honestly feel that this world needs more kindness…”
I post a lot about kindness and positivity, because I honestly feel that this world needs more kindness, and being positive has been a huge part of my personal growth journey over the past few years. But in no way do I think that we are all meant to be happy and smiley every moment of our lives. I think I’ve made that very clear in most of my blogs.
My blogs are meant to encourage you along in your life journey, to hang on during the bumpy rides you’re going to face and to keep moving forward the best you can, even when it’s hard. I’ve also said it’s ok to have those days when you just need to process the shit going on in your life without plastering on a fake smile.
- Blog 12: If you are in an unpleasant mood today, you have 2 choices: 1. Stay in that mood, or 2. Try to change it. If you want to stay in it today, that’s OK, we all need to give ourselves grace to feel those bad days, but when they start to linger into multiple days or weeks, it’s no longer just a bad day and it’s not good for our mental health to stay in that space too long.
- Blog 9: Don’t be afraid of feeling the pain as you are going through it, the pain is going to change you, it’s going to make it stronger. The reality is that life is going to be sucky at times, but we will get there one day at a time.
- Blog 20: This journey of life is hard and some days it sucks. Don’t let someone tell you, “you should be over it already”. The truth is that your struggles are your struggles and we need to stop comparing them to others.
- Blog 10: When you are depressed and feeling like you want to just crawl in a hole, you don’t want to hear someone say, “Just be thankful for what you DO have, you have a roof over your head, you have a job, you have XYZ.”
- Blog 11: The struggles you have gone through in your life might not be as devastating as what other people have gone through, but you can’t discount your pain because of that, there is no competition for who has had the worst life experiences, you still have your hurt and that is real. By comparing your pain and your struggles to someone else’s, you are denying the fact that your pain is real; you are diminishing your own pain, stating it is not worthy of expressing.
- Blog 16: What other steps can help us when we are faced with those speed bumps?
- Acknowledge it: Allow yourself to feel sad, worried, disappointed, upset, etc., but for a limited time; this is a dangerous place to stay for too long.
Toxic positivity has gone into overdrive since COVID-19. I think we all are aware that the world has seen devastating events since the beginning of time and are pretty positive that with what we are facing these days, “This too shall pass”. But not acknowledging that you might be scared, upset, frustrated, hurt or disappointed is not being honest with yourself. Clinical Social Worker Jenny Maenpaa says, “Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with counting your blessing during such a dark time. But you can do that while also acknowledging your uneasiness.”
This doesn’t just go for COVID-19, it goes for everything transpiring globally and everything you are undergoing in your personal world. Feel it, express it…but be mindful to not let it consume you long term.
Practicing gratitude for what you do have is healthy, but also be honest with yourself and express what is troubling you, like missed celebrations or your worries about the future [in the case of this pandemic] is equally as healthy.
Just because you should proactively make an effort to be grateful for what you do have, you are not being authentic if you aren’t acknowledging ALL your TRUE feelings and you’re masking them because the world is telling you “This too shall pass”. Be kind to yourself by being honest with yourself and your feelings, all of them. It’s about balance.
It’s ok to not be ok…until not being ok becomes your new ok. Ok?
And I know this might sound cliché after I just wrote a blog on toxic positivity, but even on the good and “bad” days, You Got This!
Thanks for sharing “Toxic positivity” as it clearly defines a person who really creeps me out. She makes the most over generalized positive statements with the tone of an over bearing 1950’s school teacher. I understand she is just trying to be up beat and supportive, however she gives no room for the ebb and flow of reality. Now I realize she is just in her process.
I appreciate your blogs!!
There is a guy named Mikey at a restaurant I frequent who is SOOO chipper all of the time (at least whenever I have encountered him). Smiles, welcomes everyone with a loud “How are you today”. He makes me smile and happy and on some of my bad days I have honestly thought, “I need to be more like Mikey”. But I have often wondered, is he like that in his “non work” life too? If so, I’m guessing some of his friends might need a break from his positivity every now and again. Thank you for the comment!