Today, we are talking about “Toxic Positivity”, a subject that really strikes a chord with our team at The MEND Project. For some of us, putting “toxic” and “positivity” together in a phrase seems inherently wrong. How can anything positive be toxic?
There are many times when toxic positivity is harmful. It usually happens as a result of our discomfort with or intolerance of anything negative, especially emotions. In today’s blog, we show you how toxic positivity plays a harmful role when listening to someone’s problems and especially for victims of abuse. You’ll learn what you can do instead if you are coming alongside someone.
It’s important to remember that it takes great courage for victims to share with anyone what they have been experiencing within their relationship. When they do, they are extremely vulnerable, making toxic positivity particularly damaging to them. It tells them that their feelings are not valid. Those who are responding to victims might do this because they are uncomfortable with negative emotions or the intensity of abuse and are ignorant of helpful ways to respond. The best place to start is by recognizing how important it is to allow people to process negative emotions. Responders are not called to “fix” anything. The best response is attentive listening and compassionate words and phrases, such as, “I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this.” Or, “I can imagine how painful this is for you.” Then, simply allow them to share while listening compassionately with closed mouth and open eyes and ears.