Talk of Toxic Positivity Was Toxic to Our Positivity
Last updated: August 2022
We were having a hard time wrapping our brains around what defines “toxic positivity” and at what point looking on the bright side was regarded as such a dark place to peer.
The truth is, we like to be happy. Apparently, this is how we are wired, and we are fortunate that we can be happy most of the time, even though both of us are living with this multiple sclerosis monster 24/7.
Staying positive with MS
Don’t get us wrong. Living with MS is a constant challenge that tries our patience, wears us out, breaks us down, triggers self-doubt, consumes us in fear, frustrates us beyond belief, and, even now, sometimes brings us to tears.
Yet we still strive to be happy and as positive as possible. This perpetual optimism is our authentic selves.
What is toxic positivity?
When we first heard the phrase “toxic positivity,” we were offended. We assumed it was used to comment on people like us. We feared that our words of encouragement, continued pursuit of happiness, and search for the bright side made us toxic. Eke!
For enlightenment on the topic, we Googled “toxic positivity” and learned that it involves dismissing negative emotions and responding to distress with false reassurances rather than empathy. It comes from feeling uncomfortable with negative emotions. It is often well-intentioned but as a result, can cause alienation and a feeling of disconnection.
How we choose happiness
Considering this definition, we don’t think we are toxic. We are living with MS, trying our best and we share our experiences with honesty and optimism. But there is such a fine line.
We both have been there, done that and still are living it with MS. Through all the negativity that we have dealt with because of this disease, we have found ways that have helped us to regroup, refocus, and reclaim the pursuit of living our best life in spite of this disease.
We're still learning
As part of us each living with this chronic illness of the central nervous system, we are constantly learning. And we’ve learned that we still have so much left to learn.
Wholeheartedly looking into what toxic positivity is, we’re learning that for as much as MS affects each person differently, the things that have encouraged us won’t automatically help others to move forward with this disease.
Listening to and supporting the MS community
We’ve learned to take a step back and listen to the words people are saying and understand what they need us to do. We’re positive that oftentimes, the listening and understanding are the only things they’re looking for.
Likewise, and in fairness, we hope that we are extended the same grace and understanding when we unapologetically live as our authentic perpetually optimistic selves.
Collectively, all of us in the MS community can relate to the harsh realities that we each are living with each day. We truly have each other’s back. This is why none of us should ever feel alone and why all of our voices deserve to be heard and respected.
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