Positivity Toxicity

Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”

~Elbert Hubbard~

I sat back and watched my OCD dopple-ganger pace back and forth. As usual, he took the prerequisite amount of steps before he stopped to fix a sleeve, an out-of-place strand of hair, or straightened his collar, as if anything of the sort would make a difference.

“I got my computer back. You can relax now!”, I said in exasperation.

My look-a-like skidded to a stop and stared at me, his eyes wide and bulging.

“You’re kidding, right? Yeah, sure, we have the computer back! But what if the agent in charge didn’t know what he was doing? Whatifthegamesyouplaydon’tworkonthesystem? Whatiftheydidn’tfixthosecorruptedfilesyoutoldthemabout? Whatif…”, his words picked up as he started talking faster and faster. His pace resumed, and the words spewed out of his mouth.

Me? I couldn’t understand a damn thing he said. Praise the Lord!

“Look, mom said it best. They want me as a customer, right? They will do their best to make sure everything in that computer is in working order. If they didn’t, I would be an unhappy customer, right? I wouldn’t go back again, right? Then they’d lose a customer. That’s not good for a business.”

“So what’s done is done, let’s move past this, make the best of the situation, and move forward. If something happens, we’ll tackle it when it comes up. If not, we good, yeah?”, I finished.

He skidded to a stop again, and stared at me as if I had gone completely nuts. Maybe I am.

“You know, you make it sound like everything’s going to be perfectly fine.”, he snarked at me.

I shrugged. “Everything will be fine, eventually. It’s just how life goes.”

OCD sighed audibly and started to fade out of view. But he left one last rejoinder before he was gone :

“Ever heard of Toxic Positivity?”, he snarked and then disappeared.

I stared at the space where OCD just vacated and chuckled to myself. He’s right, though, in a way. Because just last week, a friend of mine said the very same thing.

After giving her one of my many words of wisdom (said sarcastically), she responded over Discord with a simple :

“You should check out Toxic Positivity.”, and proceeded to show me the link.

I, of course, have heard of this before, but I am not entirely sure I prescribe to this idea. And I have my reasons.

Years ago, when I worked for a nameless nursing home that shall remain nameless, for nameless sake, it changed me in ways I never would have imagined. Before I started working there, I was an eternally cheerful young man. I was one of the first deaf and/or hard of hearing students to make it through public school in Maine, AND graduate with honors. I was successful in sports, but sadly, not in high school sports. I had friends. I had a good family behind me. I was a pretty cheerful person, by all accounts.

And very, very naive.

The one thing my mother, bless her heart, really never did prepare me for is the ignorance of human beings. Working (and thinking I couldn’t find a better job elsewhere) at this nameless nursing home for 15 years was, and always will be, a life changer for me. I had gone through some very rough moments of my life, as well as some happy moments of my life too. But the one thing that stuck with me for the entire 15 years at this one nursing home, 25 years total in hospitals and nursing homes total, was the sheer negativity of such places.

My empathy was such that I could walk into work, feel the mounting tension in the air, and pinpoint exactly where this negative tension was emanating from. It didn’t help not one bit, though, because like a contagious yawn, this too was contagious. As the feeling of negative emotions spread like wildfire, other people too started picking up the negative vibe and before you know it, everyone was feeling negative about this or that.

Including myself.

But I know that’s just life, and I get that. I don’t have to accept it, but I get it. How I handle it is the key to dealing with negative emotions/feelings, and I didn’t handle it well at all.

Did you know it takes more muscles to smile then it does to frown?

It’s true. A small smile would use 10 muscles, while a small frown uses up to 6 muscles. True fact.

The same goes for emotions, feelings, vibes. It’s easier to generate negativity, then it is to generate positivity. Why that is, I don’t know.

I blame society.

Why?

What makes better news in the media? Tragic news! Attack ads! Deaths in the family! A celebrity dies! Someone injected lysol and defeated the coronavirus!

Sure, you might find some positive news…maybe in page 3 of your local newspaper. Might have to do some digging around. Good luck!

In point of F A C T…

Talking about all this gives you a sense of…dread? A sense of…defeat? Despair? No? But you felt a little something, didn’t you, because you know I’m right? Mhmm.

When we were all children, we often did things that might incur the wrath of our moms and dads. Our inner curiosity compels us to put our hands into things that we aren’t supposed to be touching. What happens when we do?

“Joseph Albert! No means NO!”, wags finger at little Joey!

“But I wannnaaaa!!!”

As kids, we probably heard the word ‘NO’ so many times in our lives that we just absolutely dread the word no. How about this?

“Dear Jessica, would you go out with me?”

“No.”

Heart breaks.

As we grew up, we began to attach negative feelings and emotions to words. We also began to attach those selfsame feelings and emotions to body languages, such as the shaking of the head or the wagging of the finger. But on the flip side, when we hear the word ‘Yes!’ in a cheerful sounding voice, or ‘I do!’ in a loving kind of voice, do you feel those little butterflies in your stomach flutter around? No? Well, umm, you feel good, right? Yes! (I hope!)

And sometimes we wonder why it’s so easy to say YES and so hard to say NO at times. Because we, as human beings, associate the word YES to something positive. Happiness. Some of us kind of had to learn how to say no to people, for reasons we all know about.

Okay, okay, I get it. Make your point already, geesh!

Positivity…and Positive thinking goes a long ways to helping yourself and making you feel better. Not just for others, but for yourself too. A smile on your face, and a ‘Good morning!’ goes a long ways to making the little changes necessary to promote happiness and peace.

I heartily approve of the Power of Positivity. But can it be too much of a good thing?

Yes.

Not everyone is capable of doing the same thing. Not everyone can feel positive 100% of the time. I certainly cannot, even if I might look like I do. I just believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and to look at things in a positive way, rather than the defeatist, negative way. Instead of saying “No, you can’t do it.” you can try “Yes, you can do it, but try it this way…”. You’d be surprised, it does help. Trust me, I speak from experience.

But don’t give too much false hope. Don’t set someone up for failure. Make it realistic. Don’t just be positive for Positivity’s sake. There needs to be a reason, and a darn good reason, for positive thoughts and positive statements.

So yes, in a way, I ascribe to the idea of Toxic Positivity. Too much of a good thing CAN and WILL be too much of a good thing.


Not only can you do this with others, but you can do this with yourself as well. People are often surprised when I tell them I have depression, and they look at me like I grew horns and a tail.

“You? Depressed?
“Uhh, yes.”

It may seem like that because I keep them buried. I keep myself going day in, day out, and look to the next thing I can do to keep myself going. Game? Blog? Write a book? Find a good show on netflix? Talk to friends?

By the end of the night, I’m tired, worn out, and ready for bed, but it’s a good tired.

I don’t sit around and mope all day, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Why?

Because of the Power of Positive Thought.

Just do it sensibly, k? K!

3 thoughts on “Positivity Toxicity

  1. I am sometimes guilty of jumping to the toxic positivity thing, even though I hate it when it’s done to me. I think we all want to help the other person, find a solution for them. It comes from a good place. But we’ve (I’ve) got to remember how it feels on their end. Validation gets you halfway to a solution anyway in many cases.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree. My friend who told me to look it up actually made a point. She was, at least, nice enough to tell me about it and really made me open my eyes and look into it. I would probably go with positive vibes, rather than being super-positive about it 100% of the time. I’ve often said that someone who is positive 100% of their time is either faking it or is really heavy on the drugs. Life tends to throw us curveballs whether we like it or not. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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