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That time my journal ticked me off: a lesson in toxic positivity

Most mornings, I meditate and journal (incorporating Tarot, of course!!) One fine morning, I was using a journal that is driven by prompts. What was the prompt that ticked me off? “Being happy is a choice. Choose to be happy. What ways can you start choosing to be happy?”


I literally wrote only these words before moving on, “Ummm. Eew. No. You can’t simply choose to be happy. Happy is one of many emotions. All of which are necessary.” That was followed by many more words in my head. And now, as being transcribed by my fingers.


Y’all, that is toxic positivity as its finest. Toxic positivity is an unfortunate movement to simply be happy and positive, no matter life’s circumstances. Be happy. Good vibes. Love and light. At all costs. Again…Ummm. Eew. No. It’s excessive, generalized, and harmful.


A bit of personal info. I am an empath, I’m clairsentient. What does that mean? I feel the feels of others. Without me trying, without them trying, I can feel their emotions. While I’m grateful for this gift, it’s also a heavy load to carry. I have to practice energy cleansing and shielding to keep myself on the up and up. It wasn’t until I started learning about myself as an empath, diving deeper, that I was fully exposed to the toxic positivity movement and its harmful effects. When I had to learn how to separate my emotions from those of others. To find and embrace mine and let them ride. When I had to learn how to process myself as a whole.


Emotions are, well, emotions. Every single one of them is valid. None are not inherently bad or good, positive or negative. They are emotions. They are your reaction to a situation and are fleeting. They help you to process and possibly, take action. To eliminate the so called negative emotions is to take half of yourself away. HALF of yourself.


You need to feel your feels, in a healthy way, all of them. Let’s see here, some examples. First up, a funeral. Should you just choose to be happy at a funeral? NO. Be sad. Or mad. Whatever the emotion, process your grief. In the midst of social injustice, should you simply choose to be happy? No, be angry. Or concerned. Whatever will help you to process and quite possibly, take action!


With that, I will say that you can choose to live optimistically. You can be sad and know that it will get better. You can be angry and know that you will find a solution. You can be happy and know that in a moment you might be sad again, and it’s okay. Because you’re optimistic. Hell, you can even be pessimistic for a hot minute if it helps you to process and turn things around. It will all help you to process your surroundings.


Please, please, understand that all emotions are valid. Please don’t be the person who looks at another and tells them to “be happy” in a moment where they are showing or expressing that they are not. That is called invalidation. Instead, acknowledge their emotions. Validate them. Ask what they need in that moment and how you can best support them. Being human is f*cking hard. Be a light in their life, rather than a sledgehammer to their feels. Xo.

 

Angela McKay LLC specializes in Life Coaching and Tarot. Angela is an Intuitive Life Coach and Tarot Professional. She stands beside her clients, lending insights into their space via Tarot and serving as their accountability partner and guide via Intuitive Coaching.

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