A Health & Wellness Four-Part Series Written by Lynne Prescott, CCLS
How are you feeling these days?
Weathered? Like you’re missing out? Exhausted? Trying to stay afloat? Like you’re on a never-ending roller coaster ride? Apathetic? Unmotivated? Over it?
I think I can safely say we’re all ready to be done with this!
We’ve all been there . . . and we’ve all probably experienced most of these things (in addition to others) over the past two-plus years. It’s important to validate these feelings. There has been so much controversy, politicizing, statistical information, misinformation, and mixed information surrounding this pandemic, and not enough humanizing of the humans going through it.
I want you to know that it’s okay not to be okay, especially in a time when nothing feels, looks, or seems okay.
Conditioned to try and make things sound better than they are… we don’t want people to be sad or feel bad. Leads to “toxic positivity.” Particularly during this time when a raging pandemic, widespread social unrest, and political divisiveness dominate our days, it can feel as if reassuring platitudes are inescapable and pervasive. For instance: “Everything will be fine.” “It could be worse.” “Look on the bright side.” “It is what it is.” “This too shall pass.”
Well-intentioned as those phrases may be, experts are cautioning against going overboard with the “good vibes only” trend. Too much-forced positivity is not just unhelpful — it’s toxic.
A positive mindset is a powerful coping mechanism…. toxic positivity stems from the idea that the best or only way to cope with a bad situation is to put a positive spin on it and not dwell on the negative…. results from our tendency to undervalue negative emotional experiences and overvalue positive ones.
Anxiety and depression, among other mental health problems, have surged to historic levels over the past two years. Adding toxic positivity to the mix only exacerbates the rising tide of negative emotions by preventing people from working through the serious issues they’re experiencing in a healthy way.
Panacea phrases “It’s fine. It will be fine” … diminish or invalidate what the other person is communicating.
We value positivity. It’s a problem though when people are forced to seem or be positive in situations where it’s not natural, or when there’s a problem that legitimately needs to be addressed. For example, take the negative emotions stemming from the current state of the country. Denying, minimizing, or invalidating those feelings can be counterproductive and harmful.
Internalizing this type of toxicity can be damaging. We tend to judge ourselves for things like feeling pain, sadness, and fear, which then produces feelings of things like shame and guilt. We end up just feeling bad about feeling bad. Recognize that how you feel is valid, no matter what. It’s okay not to be okay.
Thousands who ‘followed the rules’ are getting covid. They shouldn’t be ashamed, nor should they be shamed.
COVID guilt includes everything from beating yourself up for venturing out and doing something others may find “risky,” to “OMG, if I hadn’t gone to [place/event], I wouldn’t have gotten sick and gotten Grandma sick!” Or, “I feel bad that I haven’t seen my BFF in forever, but I really don’t want to take the risk of getting myself or others sick.” And, “I miss everyone, but I am OK with the choices I am making and wish everyone would accept and respect that and stop trying to make me feel like I’m living my life in fear!” There are even reports surfacing of people hiding the fact that they or their family members have contracted the virus because they are afraid of being judged and shamed.
Be gentle with yourself, please. And please be gentle with others. We’re usually hardest on ourselves and we are capable of doing some pretty extensive damage to ourselves if we’re not careful.
The truth is that if you don’t come out of this pandemic with: a new craft or skill; an award-winning recipe for banana bread; the most organized, efficient home on the planet; doing something you’ve been putting off; or taking more online classes and acquiring more virtual knowledge than any human should possess . . . IT. IS. PERFECTLY. OKAY.
Your mental health is key right now, along with your physical well-being. We’ll survive.
Stop beating yourself up. You are a work in progress, which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once. Be good to yourself, be good to others, and let others be good to you, too!
Categorized in: General