8 Pieces Of Toxic Positivity That Aren’t As Helpful As You Mean Them To Be

I have a strained relationship with the word “toxic” as it’s often used today. Toxic masculinity, toxic relationships, toxic people. Dismissing human beings as worthless, evil and malicious, rather than recognising that maybe they just aren’t for you and that you might not be so great yourself, is too easy then there’s a simple, catch word to use to do it.

But toxic positivity might be a term I warm to. This is basically positivity that doesn’t pass the empathy test. Positivity as a means of moving the conversation onto a new topic, rather than showing a genuine interest and, god forbid, a sincere willingness to help.

Phrases like: “other people have it much worse”, or “you just need to stay positive”, or worst of all in my opinion, “everything happens for a reason“.

These aren’t expressions of support, they’re catchphrases that express your desire to move on. To say something, anything, without going to the trouble of actually understanding the problem or simply empathising and letting the person know you’re there for them.

So here are eight of them that you might want to avoid using. They won’t help the person you’re talking to and will probably make them feel worse. If you don’t know what to say that’s fine. Just let the person you’re talking to know that you care.

Who Are You Really? The Puzzle Of Personality.

Brian Little (an introvert) gives an absolute fantastic (and hilarious) talk about the ways in which personality influences behaviour and communication:

So the person who seconded him asked Tom, and me, “What do you make of Michael?” Well, I’ll tell you what Tom said in a minute. He spoke in classic Extrovertese. And here is how extroverted ears heard what I said. Which is actually pretty accurate.

I said “Well, Michael does have a tendency at times, of behaving in a way that some of us might see as perhaps more assertive than is normally called for.”

Tom rolled his eyes and said “Brian! That’s what I said. He’s an asshole!”

Now as an introvert I might gently allude to certain assholic qualities in this man’s behaviour, but I’m not gonna lunge for the A-word!