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Hey friends, Kara here.

Let's dive into a topic that might seem sunny on the surface but can cast some serious shadows: toxic positivity.

[Show b-roll of people smiling excessively or using overly enthusiastic gestures]

Toxic positivity is the belief that no matter how difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. It's the idea that we should always look on the bright side and avoid expressing negative emotions.

[Show b-roll of someone dismissing another person's concerns]

While having a positive outlook can be beneficial, toxic positivity takes it to an extreme. It can invalidate people's genuine feelings and make them feel like their struggles are unimportant. It can also pressure people to suppress their emotions, which can lead to increased stress and anxiety.

[Show b-roll of someone looking stressed or overwhelmed]

So, how does toxic positivity differ from being generally positive? Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Minimizing others' experiences. Toxic positivity often involves dismissing someone's feelings with phrases like "It could be worse" or "Just be grateful for what you have," whereas being generally positive acknowledges the validity of someone's struggles while still offering encouragement. [Show b-roll of someone speaking dismissively to another person]
  2. Shaming negative emotions. Toxic positivity can make people feel guilty for experiencing sadness, anger, or frustration, suggesting that these emotions are wrong or unacceptable. In contrast, being generally positive recognizes that negative emotions are a normal part of the human experience and should be acknowledged and processed in a healthy way. [Show b-roll of someone looking ashamed or hiding their emotions]
  3. Offering fuzzy or impractical advice. Toxic positivity often comes with platitudes like "Just stay positive" or "Everything happens for a reason," which can feel dismissive and unhelpful to someone going through a tough time. Being generally positive, on the other hand, involves offering genuine support and empathy, acknowledging the person's problem and even collaborating on solutions if they're open to it. [Show b-roll of someone cheerily speaking to someone who is clearly stressed]

But why do so many people fall victim to toxic positivity?

First, it's often well-intentioned, coming from a desire to help others feel better. Second, our society often places a high value on happiness and positivity, which can pressure people to maintain a cheerful facade even when they're struggling.

And finally, if we may subconsciously want to minimize someone else's struggles if we feel like we can't or don't want to help them. The psychologist Dr. Susan David describes this mindset simply: "my comfort is more important than your reality."

[Overlay a quote and headshot of Dr. Susan David as you read her quote]

So now that we know what toxic positivity really is, how can we avoid slipping into it ourselves? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Validate others' feelings. When someone shares their struggles with you, acknowledge their emotions and show empathy. Let them know that it's okay to feel the way they do. [Show b-roll of someone listening attentively and nodding with understanding]
  2. Embrace a range of emotions. Recognize that it's normal and healthy to experience a variety of emotions, including negative ones. Allow yourself and others to feel and express these emotions without judgment. [Show b-roll of someone listening supportively as someone else expresses strong emotions]
  3. Offer genuine support. Instead of offering empty platitudes, suggest ways that you might be able to support the person – often, that's just offering to be there to listen. [Show b-roll of someone offering a comforting presence or a listening ear]

Remember, it's okay to not be okay sometimes. By avoiding toxic positivity and embracing a range of emotions, we can create a more supportive and understanding environment for ourselves and others.

[Show b-roll of people having an open and honest conversation]

Thanks for watching, and remember, your feelings are valid.

[End with a warm and understanding smile]

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