Positive self talk, optimism and toxic positivity.

Friday Live 27th August 2021

Hey lovely human,

Positive self talk, optimism and toxic positivity.

I was looking at my daughters SEL (Social emotional Learning content) work with her this morning as she was completing a work assignments.  She was asked to come up with some positive statements to got with some hypothetical situations.  We were discussing that whilst positive statements were important to help combat reactive and overly negative reactions to things, it was important that we didn’t jump to making positive self statements (or to anyone else) without knowledge that having so called ‘negative’ emotions and reactions to things are actually ok too. 

We discussed that acknowledging that however we react is ok, but that having the power to choosing to stay in those situations or think differently is where we can really have control.  There can be a danger with trying to think ‘positively’ all of the time, or change our thoughts straight to more helpful ones before we’ve had our current emotions validated-whether this is by ourselves or by others.  And I think this is where the idea of ‘toxic positivity’ comes in.  Toxic positivity is when there can be the push to only accept ‘happy’ or ‘positive’ emotions.  The risk with this is that you demean any emotions that are not positive. And denying all kinds of emotions, or valuing some over others can lead to problems just has having too many low or hopeless feelings can.

So whilst learning about the power of positive thinking, I feel that finding a way to have balanced thoughts or recognise when our thinking is leading on a downward spiral is also important.  Just be mindful of temptation to discount uncomfortable emotions or minimise the importance of having  strong emotions, no matter what they be.  Then if we want to, we can try and find more balanced thinking, that allows us not to sit in a sad, stressed or depressed state.

Having developed this skill of checking in on our thinking to see if it is ‘helpful or unhelpful’ means that you are more able to have an optimistic outloook-(that you believe that things will turn out favourable), but it does not discount any one type of emotion, but is rather accepting of all and willing to work at creating ones that serve you the best.

To see more on this, click the link to watch on my You Tube Chanel:

Kate x

Published by Kate French

Clinical Psychologist; expertise in autism and child and family psychology.

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