Be compassionate with yourself
If this is a new journey for you of trying to be okay with negative emotions and letting go of the idea that “I must feel positive all the time in order to have a happy life,” then you are likely going to fall back into this headspace many times. And guess what? It’s okay! We are often our own worst critic and I want to remind you that when you do catch that inner voice saying “put a smile on your face and be happy,” be kind to yourself by reminding yourself that you are learning to change this thought.
- Tell yourself that it was great that you caught that “toxic positivity” thought in the first place and that is great!
- Ask yourself: what emotion am I trying to mask by putting a smile on my face?
Give yourself time to practice facing and identifying emotions
I like to think of this as a muscle, you have to slowly strengthen this part of you to be comfortable to experience negative emotions. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Start off with a few intentional breaths a day and just check in with yourself mentally. Ask yourself “what am I feeling right now?” Then regardless of the emotions, remind yourself that it is okay to feel this right now. This can literally be 5 seconds out of the day and do this everyday, slowly progressing to longer periods of time.
- Give yourself 5 minutes to take a moment and write what you are feeling or thinking down on paper. This can be a powerful practice in that you are putting down on paper what you are experiencing. No one will judge it for grammatical errors or if it makes sense. You can even rip it up and throw the paper away if you need to. The purpose of this is to take time to identify what you are feeling and not push it down.
- Practice empathy with yourself and with others. You can do this by engaging in active listening skills and saying things like “that sounds really hard,” or “I’m not sure what to say right now, but I’m here for you.” Sometimes we want to make things better for others or ourselves and we say things like “well it could be worse” or “at least it’s not as bad as …” This is what you are trying to get away from.
In the grand scheme of things, positivity alone is not toxic or dangerous, it becomes toxic when it dismisses other emotions. Remember that empathy can go a long way when applied to yourself and to others.
Priscilla specializes in working with couples and individuals who want to strengthen their relationship with themselves and with others. Priscilla utilizes research based techniques to help clients implement healthy coping skills and communication skills. Learn more on how you can enhance your relationship today.