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Skip the Lemonade: The Problem with Toxic Positivity

Sometimes, life has been throwing lemons at you for so long you just don't have the energy to make any more freakin' lemonade. And honestly, you don't even like lemonade, so wtf.

I get it. 

Life can be ruthless sometimes, right? There are times when I feel like all I've done is make lemonade. Sometimes it happens that way. Life just keeps coming at us until we are like poor Jack from the Titanic, just white knuckling that damn makeshift raft and that B Rose is sprawled out on it like a beached whale. Totally unfair!

So what can we do when we're so sick of making lemonade and life just keeps chucking lemons at us?

Um, we just don't make lemonade.

We need to give ourselves a break from "putting on our big girl panties" or "sucking it up" and instead say screw the lemonade, sit with the lemons, cry, feel all the feels and get really pissed off.

In other words, we have to process our pain, emotions and otherwise disappointing life experiences. 

We've got to be ok sometimes with just dealing with the crap life is handing us, instead of trying to pretty it up into something sweeter, when it really just blows.

Toxic positivity is an actual real thing and continuing to fuel our minds with it can be as bad as negative self talk. It's unrealistic to expect humans to brush aside their feelings and just bounce back when faced with challenges.It's like as a society we've just become so accustomed to desensitizing ourselves to everything, we want to ignore the deep seeded issues and flippantly brush them aside hoping someone else will fix the problem, or that if just stay positive and optimistic we will rise above. 

There is definitely a time and a place for putting on our big girl panties and moving on, but I really think that the more we do this, the more we are teaching ourselves that it's not ok to feel really f'n shitty sometimes. So we stuff our feelings away and just pretend we are happy which leads to resentment, anxiety and depression.

Earlier this month, our 10 year old came in 5th place in an academic competition. 5th out of 37. And she was DEVASTATED. As parents, Jon and I wanted to fix things for her because we are human, and we want to protect our kids, right? Generally speaking, humans don't like when people around them are sad, that's why we always say stupid shit like "better luck next time" or "look on the bright side". What we don't realize, when we say these things, however well intentioned, we are completely invalidating the other person's feelings, which are very real and they aren't in a space, at that moment, to "look on the bright side".

In the case where Kedzie was ROBBED of her first place ribbon, I was quick to remind her that her feelings were normal, natural and OK. I didn't want her sitting there thinking she should just suck it up and move on because her little world was crushed, and she needed to feel validated at that moment. I wanted her to feel those feelings so the next time life trampled her little spirit, she would know she had the power to feel, but also know she had the power to heal. 

So the next time life shakes the lemon tree of complete shit all over your life, sit with your feelings and think about what you're dealing with. Call a friend and process it together. Make an appointment with your therapist. Allow yourself to be angry and disappointed. Process the feelings and afterwards, allow yourself to reflect and enter a headspace that will let you actually allow you to heal and move forward. Take smaller, manageable steps towards the "bright side" and maye instead of making a whole batch of over sweetened lemonade, keep it simple and just add some frozen lemon slices to some fresh water.

Slow, steady, practical and realistic positivity. It's refreshing. 



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