Watch Your Words – A Short Essay on Toxic Positivity
Thoughts to ponder
Have you ever really thought about your vocabulary? Do you use pleasant and kind words when speaking to others? Or is your speech harsh, demeaning, or controlling?
Our words can have a lasting impact on the person we say them to without us ever realizing it.
I remember when I was six or seven years old a neighbor who commented on my reddish auburn hair. That’s a long time to remember a compliment. I also remember some other not-so-pleasant comments but I’ll skip over those for now.
When I wrote my first book, Discover Your Joy, I quoted a particular friend several times. When she read the book, she commented that she didn’t remember those conversations – which is my point. We say things without thinking about the impact it will have on others for the rest of their lives… some good and some not-so-good. In this case, my friend’s comments became a lifeline for me. To her, it was just a conversation.
But actually, there’s another type of comment that we sometimes make that I’d like to talk about. It’s toxic positivity. This phrase became obvious to me when I recorded a podcast about healthy balances of joy and gratitude.
You can listen to the podcast here.
Toxic positivity is a comment where someone perhaps thinks they’re being positive, but it’s not allowing the other person to process their own internal feelings. It can leave the receiver of the comment feeling invalidated or that their feelings are being minimized. Here are a few examples.
“She’s in a better place now,” said to someone grieving the loss of a loved one.
“Just think positive.” This could be said to someone who lost a job, had an argument with their spouse, or many other situations.
“Everything happens for a reason.” This is another comment that you hear often and is said under various circumstances.
Have you had someone say any phrases like these to you when you actually needed kindness and support? How did it make you feel?
Be an encourager
When you’re trying to be supportive of a person who has experienced any kind of loss or other negative situation, there are some other phrases that will actually help the other person heal. Try using some of these comments.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“What can I do for you?”
“How can I help you?”
A simple “I love you,” accompanied by a hug does wonders.
So today, I want to simply remind you to carefully consider and watch your words. Try to speak using gratitude and kindness. Be an encourager known for spreading positivity – but not toxic positivity. Everyone you meet will appreciate you!
For more info on sincere positivity, check out my books here on the website at
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Thank you for sharing! Toxic Positivity is a concept that is so important to understand.
Great post! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for writing such an important article on toxic positivity. I think we oftentimes don’t understand the power of words and you explained it perfectly.
This is right on target! I totally agree with your approach about what to say to others in times of difficulty!
I completely agree that toxic positivity isn’t helpful in most cases. But knowing when to be positive and knowing when to be practical is truly important in my opinion. Thanks for sharing this awesome post!
This is a great reminder! I try and be positive but sometimes I get into a rutt.
This is an eye-opening post for me because I have used some of those phrases. I am glad that you pointed out that it can sometimes be hurtful. Thank you!