It is undeniable that in the right circumstances, being positive can lead to amazing things and a whole change of perspective. However, it is okay not to feel happy or positive all the time! In fact, sometimes it can even do more harm than good. At some point or another, we probably have all witnessed toxic positivity whether it's an inspirational quote on Instagram or a friend telling us "you'll be fine!" after we have expressed something heartfelt. The reality is, it is normal and much healthier to accept and acknowledge those negative feelings, rather than pretending we are okay or forcing ourselves to be happy. By acknowledging all our feelings, both good and bad, we are allowing ourselves to process those emotions and it becomes more manageable to cope with. Therefore, when someone comes to you with a problem or they are feeling stressed, they are often not looking for an inspirational quote or for you to make them see the bright side. They are often searching for validation and acknowledgement that what they are going through is difficult. Therefore, next time a friend, work, or family member comes to you in search of some support, instead of jumping onto the positivity wagon, try to validate their feelings. Below are examples of some things you could say…..
"I can see you are feeling very sad/anxious/distressed/angry/scared"
"That sounds like a really hard situation to be in"
"That must be a really awful feeling"
"It is understandable why you would be feeling anxious/depressed/angry/scared"
"That sounds really unfair"
"That has got to be so (frustrating/annoying/upsetting/scary)"
"It's never pleasant to be feeling this way. Is there something I/we can that you would enjoy today?"
"This is a really hard situation, what way can I best support you through this?"
"It's okay to be feeling like this!"
Remember, supporting people is not always about being positive. It is important to acknowledge everything that they are feeling, whether it is good or bad. This does not mean we should not leave room for positivity! However, simply saying "you will be fine" or "look on the bright side" is not going to cut it! Encourage them to talk about their feelings, validate, listen to them, and if appropriate try to help guide them to see the positives by highlighting their strengths. If you would like some more tips or information on supporting someone during a difficult time, please contact LETSS via 1800 013 755 or start a web chat via www.letss.org.au
(Image from Unsplash by Roberto Nickson)