Why Positivity Can Be As Bad As Brooding Or Bottling Up Emotions
Life's beauty is inseparable from its fragility" ~ Susan David
Are you influenced by the modern concept of "Stay Positive!!!" without having first developed the courage to face your emotions in the eye, recognize them, name them and acknowledge them? Do you find yourself egging yourself or someone else on to be positive in face of a devastating experience, without giving yourself or the other person the chance to honestly talk about the pain?
Let us first ask ourselves, what is an authentic and considered life? Without asking these difficult questions, we cannot start the journey of emotional authenticity. Often people think accepting the difficult emotional equates depression and cowardice. However, I contend that it takes greater courage to be emotionally truthful, accept things for what they are, and acknowledge emotions like grief, pain, anxiety or anger that we may be struggling with.
This is a recurrent theme in expressive arts therapy, to face and recognize our emotions and feelings and understand our mental and bodily responses. Only by acknowledging our own truths, can we accept and understand the truths of others. Only by acknowledging the truth and struggles of others, can we be truly compassionate.
In this beautiful, heartfelt talk, eminent Harvard Medical School psychologist Susan David questions the toxic positivity that pervades today's culture and advocates for emotional truthfulness and agility.
You can also check out her podcast Checking In which was started during the Covid19 pandemic as a way to offer strategies to people to deal with anxiety, fear and difficult emotions.
Also check out this article on "4 Ways to Avoid 'Toxic Positivity' and Lean Into Emotional Acceptance" by Haley Goldberg.