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What's the Difference Between Toxic Positivity and Validation?

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Positivity is a great thing but being positive all the time and rejecting the negative all the time is unhealthy. Toxic positivity is when you deny, invalidate or minimize a negative or distressing situation by overgeneralizing the positives. Sometimes, this positivity is not realistic and can lead to emotional suppression.⁣⁣
When we jump to positivity right away it can be extremely invalidating because we are denying an experience. Even if we want to be positive, it is important to acknowledge negative feelings and distress first. ⁣⁣

⁣⁣Let’s say your pet passes away. How would you feel if someone said, “Oh don’t worry, just get another dog.” How invalidating does this feel? Does it make you want to confide in this person again? Probably not.

Now let’s try the validation method: “Oh wow, I’m so sorry to hear that. Loss is so hard, and you will grieve the loss for awhile. What can I do to help? Once things feel better maybe you can consider getting another dog.”

Here, the same thing is being said but instead of jumping to positivity and problem solving, you validate and give space for the emotions and experience first. ⁣⁣
Validation is an essential communication skill that will make someone feel heard and give them space to process things. ⁣⁣
Remember that everyone is going through a stressful time right now. You want to acknowledge this by validating before being positive or problem solving. Also remember the privileges that you have, such as a recession proof or virus proof job, your health, and your safety. ⁣⁣

To learn more about toxic positivity, check out these Mighty articles:

Header image via Amy Tran/Instagram

Originally published: February 15, 2021
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