Feeling Your Feelings & Toxic Positivity
I remember the first time I came across the adage, ‘toxic positivity’ and I was next level MAD about it. I’m pretty sure I scoffed audibly as I scrolled upon it. Toxic positivity? How could those words even be next to each other? I rolled my eyes, threw up my hands. ‘Oh look!’ I thought to myself, ‘Another excuse for people to stay miserable, relish in their ‘bad days’ and be mad at happy people.’
What the HECK even was toxic positivity? People who know me closely, know that I cannot just leave things unexplored. I must learn everything I can, I need to let my inner nerd free and seek to understand it.
You see, at this point in my life, I was known to be the girl who was always happy, full of energy. I had buffered myself with Pinterest quotes to remind myself to choose positivity over everything else. So, this ‘toxic positivity’ really ticked me off as if it was single-handedly trying to demonize my way of life.
I felt attacked. 😂
What is toxic positivity?
By definition, toxic positivity is ‘dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false reassurances rather than empathy. It comes from feeling uncomfortable with negative emotions.’
Oomph. As I read this for the first time, I felt my eyebrows crunch together. ‘Was I afraid of negative emotions? Did I allow myself to feel them?’
I took a mirror to myself that day and I realized that I had some things to reflect on.
Until that point, I didn’t see any value in feeling negative emotions. It was as if I thought feeling them would be opening the floodgates to a downpour of despair.
My strategy at the time was to plaster a smile on my face and trick myself into thinking it’d evaporate, but just like anything you stuff too full, it eventually BURSTS at the seam and explodes – Something that I had experienced in myself quite a few times.
My strategy was not sustainable and – as much as I didn’t want to admit it – I was practicing toxic positivity.
It is safe to feel your feelings
If you were like me, afraid of opening the floodgates by giving space for your ‘negative emotions’, I want to be the first to give you a BIG HUG and tell you, ‘It’s going to be ok. It’s safe to feel ALL your feelings’.
As I started dismantling my toxic positivity, I had to start allowing myself to feel mad, feel annoyed, disgusted, frustrated, pissed off. It felt so dangerous, but once I started giving space to them, I witnessed something quite surprising.
By allowing myself to feel mad, I could literally feel a lift in my energy. I felt noticeably lighter.
Gift yourself the space & time to feel it out
My mentor, Suzy Batiz, introduced me to a practice where you literally sit down cross-legged and FEEL whatever emotion was coming up, with no timeline. You just had to sit there until you felt a lift.
This is when I realized what kind of pressure I’d also been putting on myself to ‘hurry up and get over it’. Ever seen a toddler have a tantrum? They don’t care where they are or how inconvenient it is for you, they will plop down and FEEL IT OUT. And if you dare try to cut their tantrum short… you only make it worse.
And yet, as adults, we’re told to smile through it, maybe we give ourselves 3 deep breaths, and then we wonder why we feel so heavy in our bodies. We are fridges full of leftovers, rotting away.
So, ok. You don’t want to be a screaming toddler in the middle of a restaurant and embarrass yourself. So, how can you safely give yourself space to truly feel the entirety of your emotions, good or bad?
What keeps you STUCK in negative feelings
First of all – ENOUGH with the self-criticism. I want you to reflect back on the millions of moments you have berated yourself for ‘being mad at something so stupid or insignificant.’ Or the time you beat yourself up over ‘still not being over that breakup or that argument or that woman cutting you off on the highway.’
I think we can ALL agree that nothing good has ever come out of self criticism or beating ourselves up. It just keeps us STUCK. We just circle the drain, around and around we go and we think it’s the negative emotions that keep us spiraling into the pit of despair. But it’s not.
How to feel your feelings
Next time you feel upset, I want you to sit your buttcheeks down and LET YOURSELF FEEL UPSET. Don’t set a timer. Just be upset. Maybe you open a note on your phone and jam out on your keyboard everything you want to say to that person or everything that pissed you off that day. Maybe you open your voice note app and scream it out. Maybe you stomp your feet on the floor or punch your pillow a billion times.
Whatever you choose, allow yourself to feel it out and I guarantee you will eventually feel a gentle lift. You’ll move up on the vibrational scale of emotions. You will feel more free.
The only thing that keeps you stuck is not giving yourself the space and trying to end the temper tantrum prematurely. Squeeze out every last drop. The only way out is through.
The only way out is through.
It’s not as scary as we think. Negative emotions deserve space just as much as our joy and happiness and when we experience that for ourselves, the FREEDOM we feel is dripping wet delicious.
I’d love for you to give yourself the space daily to feel whatever it is that comes up for you – a daily dumping ground if you will 😉 No more sweeping things under the rug or punishing yourself for being mad or upset or having any range of sour emotions. We can only experience freedom when we allow ourselves to fully feel everything out.
You deserve that space, you deserve that time to yourself. What you’re feeling – whatever it is, is valid. Scream it out, stomp it out, write it out and freaking burn it, let it go. You’ll never feel more free or more connected to yourself than when you grant yourself this space.
Plus, people who don’t suppress their emotions are 10x more sexy 😉 If that’s reason enough to try the above, I don’t know what is.
Sending you all lots of love,