Many of you know that I’m an advocate for neutral thinking rather than positive thinking. I’ve come to this realization because life includes aspects of positive and negative experiences, both of which can enrich our lives. Life isn’t just positive experiences. Death, grief, and suffering give dimension to our lives and thus it’s important to accept and be present for these experiences.
This video, The Shadow of Toxic Positivity, digs into this subject. The narrator makes some interesting points, one of which comes from Epictetus the Stoic philosopher:
“Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible.”
- Life consists of both the positive and the negative. Rejecting the negative means we reject 50% of what makes up life. (Think about that)
- Toxic positivity creates a thick, dense shadow, which will surface when we least expect it. (Do you want to be surprised this way?)
- Toxic positivity forces us to be happy, instead of letting happiness reveal itself at the proper time, when we feel it. (“Feeling it” means you’re in tune with your body. Are you paying attention to it, to the state your body is communicating to you?)
- Helpful positivity is having a mindset of acceptance and willingness to engage the dark events when they arise. It’s the middle way of navigating both aspects of life and fluctuating between them. (If “helpful positivity” is the middle way, then why not just call it neutral thinking?)
- Consider what we’re doing when we deny negativity in ourselves or others. (What are you doing when you deny this?)
- How can we help others when we deny them at the same time, deny their authentic experience? (We should ask ourselves the same question)
If we deny the negative and repress it, then it comes back stronger. Everything–beings, emotions, and thoughts–want to live, want expression. By repressing the negative we make the negative stronger until it overwhelms us. It’s better to be present for the negative experiences when they occur and focus on how they realign our lives. They tend to realign us to important aspects we’ve ignored along the way.