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  • Marcy Kocher

Toxic Positivity

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

A common misconception about life coaching is that the goal is to always feel good.


This is not the goal; in fact, this is what I would describe as toxic positivity.


Toxic positivity is the act of resisting, ignoring, avoiding, and judging “negative” emotions and pretending to think and feel “positive.”


Why do I put negative and positive in quotes?


Because emotions are not positive or negative, good or bad.


Emotions are just sensations in our body created by a chemical reaction that we call feelings.


Some of those feelings feel better than others, so the ones that feel good we label as positive, and the ones that feel bad we label as negative.


But they are ALL a necessary and healthy part of the human experience.



Contrary to common opinion, emotions are nothing to be afraid of.


They can’t hurt you unless you regularly resist or unconsciously react to them.


Irritation, frustration, fear, anxiety, and anger are normal, healthy human emotions.


They’re there to protect you, to be noticed, felt, and processed in a healthy way.


Having negative emotions doesn’t make you a negative person.


It makes you human.


Regularly pushing negative emotions down, not being honest about how you feel, minimizing your or someone else’s feelings, and replacing them with positive quotes or platitudes can lead to harmful emotional, relational, and physical consequences, thus TOXIC positivity.


 

Emotions are there to give you information and help you take action;


Like when you touch a hot stove, and you FEEL pain.


That pain is there to let you know you’re in danger, and you need to take the action of moving your hand.


So, my goal as a life coach is not to have you feel good all the time but to learn how to manage and control your emotions so they can work for you instead of against you.


Rarely are we taught how to do this.


I know I wasn’t and, unfortunately, didn’t learn in time to teach my children.


As children, many of us heard things like,


Big boys/girls don’t cry.


Stop crying, and I’ll give you a cookie.


Or


I’ll give you something to cry about.


Go to your room and don’t come out until you can be nice.



I’m sure you can fill in a few of your own.


These messages taught us that it’s not safe to feel.


And all children need to learn that it’s normal to feel and be guided and taught how to feel safely and productively.


 

Maybe you’re thinking, That sounds great, but how do I learn to feel in a healthy way?


If so, you’re in luck.


Over the next few weeks I’ll share the process that I teach my clients.


It’s the foundation of emotional adulthood.


Creating safety for yourself will help you be a safe person for others, which will deepen your relationships and lead to more peace and joy in your life.


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