Here’s the thing: Society at large has become so hung up on “looking at the bright side” and “being thankful this is your biggest worry” that we forget to truly honor each other’s experience. I’m not quite sure when this started and I am sure that it was a design to keep us competing with one another. Toxic positivity sucks.
My trauma(s) is not your trauma and vice versa. While I have escaped that experience, I am not not unscathed. I still have nightmares. I still have flashbacks. I still have intrusive thoughts.
But you know what? I’m perfectly ok with that. I don’t have nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive every day anymore. I am able to call my best friend in the middle of any of said symptom and she picks up with “hey WK, what’s going on”?
She never (I mean, ever, seriously) tells me to “look at the bright side” or “you should be thankful that’s your biggest worry”. She sits down ( I imagine) and brings the phone tight to her ear saying “I hear you and I love you”.
She and I have talked at length about what toxic positivity is doing to our nation as a whole. It dismisses trauma, it dismisses grief, it dismisses “negative feelings” as a whole, in my opinion. Why can’t we acknowledge that sometimes, life stinks?
Why aren’t we able to say “Wow, I’m really angry and I’m not sure I’m ok with what you said” to a family member or friend? No matter how well intended “ah, just remember why…” is, please also remember that a human being with complexities is on the receiving end of that statement.
When you were going through a difficult moment in your life, would “ Well, look at the bright side” be encouraging, helpful, or welcome? No? Then please, I implore you stop saying it to others. When others comment and provide advice to look “on the bright side”, please remember that you are a human being with complex emotions and an experience different than even your own siblings.
You have every right to feel the way you feel, even if it makes others around you uncomfortable