Do you ever just have a bad day where everything goes wrong? You get stuck in traffic. You spill coffee on your favorite shirt. You make a big mistake on a high-stakes project. Someone says something that revives one of your biggest insecurities. And when you finally get the chance to talk about it someone says ‘well, it could be worse.’
It. just. stops. you. in. your. tracks.
We all know that it could be worse. But this statement completely minimizes your feelings and makes you feel, almost, silenced. It’s a form of toxic positivity. You aren’t allowed to grieve or be upset. You’re told to just suck it up. Be grateful for what you have; it could always be worse.
Want to know more about toxic positivity and why it’s such a problem? The video below is an important watch. (TW: Suicide)
Toxic positivity vs. gratitude
I do believe expressing gratitude is important to happiness (especially after reading ‘Think Like a Monk’), but there’s a delicate balance to avoid spilling over into toxic positivity. You can be grateful for something AND also believe that you deserve better.
Take for example someone that’s not happy with their job. Maybe, they’ve been passed over time and time again for a promotion. Maybe, their boss does truly pick favorites. Maybe, they are grossly underpaid. Maybe, there are never any displays of appreciation for a job well done. Maybe, the career path itself is not a good fit. Whatever the reason, you can be grateful to have a job that pays the bills AND also want something better for yourself. This does not need to be an either/or kind of scenario. Both of these things can be true at once.
When you know someone is having a tough time, you could ask ‘How can I support you?’. If you aren’t seeing that kind of response when you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask yourself that question.