We have all come across posts on social media that encourage you to see the silver lining even in the darkest moments. Quotes that suggest that it is solely up to you and your attitude what kind of day you are going to have. “You should be grateful.” “It could be worse.” “Everything happens for a reason.” These are a few examples that come into my mind. I am not going to lie–a positive mindset has helped me push through the pandemic and other challenges. However, I truly believe that we shouldn’t act like everything is ok when it isn’t. Toxic positivity has unfortunately become very popular in today’s society.
When does positivity become toxic?
According to McKenna Princing from UW Medicine, “toxic positivity involves dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false reassurances rather than empathy.” While it is healthy to take minor mishaps with a sense of humor, it can become toxic to deny that negative emotions are real. There are certain life events that have nothing positive about them such as the death of a loved one, a child with an incurable disease, or a break-up that you didn’t want. It is important to allow yourself to mourn a loss or to be sad about bad news.
While you can certainly still live a happy and fulfilled life after a tragic event, it would be plain fake to act like everything is ok. When you suppress emotions, it will eventually have negative consequences on your mental health in the long run. Subsequently, the work you will have to heal will be a lot bigger. Allow yourself to go through a mourning process.
How toxic positivity can affect a mom’s life negatively
Being a mom in the age of social media can feel like a lot of pressure. Seeing the Pinterest mom baking picture-perfect gluten-free cookies with her children in matching outfits while you can barely hold it together can sure add a lot of stress. Nowadays, mothers have a lot on their plates. And parenting their children can be very hard. I recently saw a tweet that says, “When you tell a struggling parent to ‘enjoy every moment’ it’s like telling someone with a migraine to ‘be thankful they have a head’ and neither is helpful okay.”
Not only did this literally make me laugh out loud, but I also wholeheartedly agree. It is not only ok for a mom to admit that she is overwhelmed and needs help, it is absolutely necessary for her whole family’s well-being. Not acknowledging your feelings will only lead to burnout and make you even less patient with your family. However, admitting you need some me-time and actually taking it can go a long way.
How to be true to yourself instead
Of course, this does not mean that you can never see the positive in a situation. You can laugh it off if it’s something trivial like missing a flight or spilling your beverage over your clothes. But it is equally important to acknowledge your negative emotions. Instead of bottling up emotions and allowing “good vibes only,” allow room for ALL emotions in order to heal. You have to acknowledge “dark” feelings to be able to find the root cause. Pretending you are fine 24/7 will not turn you into a genuinely happy person.
Miami Mom Collective offers a variety of tools for moms to cope with life challenges. From supportive blog posts to webinars led by professionals, in-person and virtual get-togethers. You can find an authentic mom community here where we help and support each other.