Articles, Blog

Toxic Positivity [CC]

March 7, 2020

Hello, I’m Jessica and I have a positivity
problem. I could blame it on having a bit of brain
damage. I could blame it on taking medication that’s effectively equivalent to six pints
of beer a day. I could blame it on early internalisation of inspirational narratives (I was little
in the 90s) But the thing is… I don’t see my unwavering
zeal as something to ‘blame’, I see it as something to be thankful for. – Because aren’t all hardships just chances
for us to learn and grow…? Ok, ok, I’m sorry! Don’t click off this
video! Look, just because I can see that every cloud
has a silver lining and you have to look through the rain to see the rainbow doesn’t mean
I can’t also roll my eyes at the sickening but entirely genuine positivity that my brain
spews out. Thank you to the members of the Kellgren-Fozard
Club for helping me to choose this video topic. If you would like to have a say in future
videos, along with gaining access to a monthly behind the scenes video, custom badges, emojis
AND a members-only area of my Discord board then click the ‘join’ button below. It’s
next to the subscribe button which I can see from my analytics some of you are missing,
even though you’re watching a number of my videos… I’m just saying. [wink] The other day I was part of a conversation
in which Person A told Person B that they were setting their goals too high and I had
to bite my tongue because my brain said: – “At least failing when you shoot for the
moon means you’ll land among the stars” What? What?! What, Jessica?! Where do these
corny lines even come from?! How does my brain do this? I even saw the good in everything as a small
child, to an apparently frustrating degree, as my parents nicknamed me Pollyanna. Which,
if you haven’t read it, is a wonderful book about a little girl with a philosophy of life
centred around “The Glad Game”, where she looks for the good in absolutely everything,
even terrible things. Optimism was really important to me as an ill child who no one
believed… I wanted to make my life great and lovely so I focused on that, just like
Pollyanna who, when put in a stuffy attic room without pictures or carpet by her aunt,
rejoices in the beautiful view from the window. – A buoyant refusal to be downcast can be
a useful weapon. But if that nauseatingly sweet positivity
isn’t natural, if it isn’t coming from within you, if it’s being forced upon you…
then it’s what we call ‘toxic positivity’ and it’s a real problem. And sometimes I’m part of that problem.
I’m turning it on myself. ‘Toxic positivity’ refers to the concept
that staying positive- and ONLY being positive- is the right way to live your life. It means
purely focusing on positive things and refusing to acknowledge any negative emotions or even
things that it’s felt may trigger negative emotions. And when I learnt the phrase ‘toxic positivity’
I was like… – oh. That’s me. So I’m calling myself out. Yes, I’m making
an entire video to hold myself to account for subjecting myself to my own toxic positivity. Because positivity is all well and good when
it’s just going on inside your own brain: if you don’t want to deal with the one negative
comment in a sea of positive comments about your new haircut and you’re able to just
ignore it then more power to you, we’re all very impressed. BUT when extreme positivity is being pressed
upon you from the outside (even when you’re doing it to yourself), that’s when it becomes
damaging and it’s something that those of us with disabilities or chronic illnesses
have to deal with ALL THE DARN TIME. Also, I know a lot of you send my videos to
friends and family members to help them understand when they’re not being helpful so there
are probably some parents watching, in which case – hi. I’m assuming your child sent you this
because you did one of the bad things I’m about to tell you not to do. Don’t worry
though, I’m not going to yell at you about it or tell you off. We’re just going to
talk through it and why telling someone they have to be unrelentingly positive is not as
helpful as you might think. Thanks for clicking on the video link though. It shows you care. Positivity is incredibly powerful and it’s
seen me through many a struggle, I’ll grant you: holding onto threads of hope, knowing
that there is a light at the end of the illness tunnel, that ‘this too shall pass’ has
pulled me through life-threatening challenges. Seeing the sky clear to once again reveal
the sun reminds me that the world isn’t really as catastrophic as it can sometimes
feel BUT positivity can have a negative impact too. It isn’t always the best way to help
other people and can have a really damaging effect on others if they’ve come to you
for support. It’s almost an unintentional gaslighting which stops someone from expressing
how they really feel. Saying things like “it’ll get better”,
“you just need to keep fighting” and “once you’re well again…” may be meant as
a kindness but it’s actually awful to hear from the other side. You’re pushing for
a future version of me but not accepting me as I am right now. I need the space to be
able to say “I wish I could do that but I know I can’t and I’m learning to accept
that” without having “Well maybe one day!” pushed upon me. Oddly, even though I’ve been unwell basically
my entire life, when I think about my future I picture my own body as being entirely capable.
I’m not sure why that is… maybe I can blame films and TV for it… a lack of disabled
role models growing up or something. But when I picture myself as a mum, I don’t have
any physical limitations. Which is unhelpful. Because as I grow (hopefully) closer and closer
to that point I have to come to terms with “oh, right. I’m not changing. Huh.” Acceptance is important. I can hope for improvements
in treatment, but I can’t really hope for being magically better because that hope itself
is a damaging thing. Eventually time runs out and you hit that milestone without being
fully better. Telling someone who can’t get better that
they just need to ‘believe’ in order to make it happen puts the onus of blame onto
them. You’re saying that the only reason they’re still ill is because they don’t
‘believe’ they can get better, or- much worse- that you’re accusing them of ‘wanting’
to be ill. By only choosing to acknowledge or laud their happy feelings but not their
bad ones, they’ll be left questioning whether they have a right to those negative feelings
at all. – Spoiler: You cannot cure someone with relentless
positivity, you can only make them feel bad. In my opinion, we’re so used to seeing disabled
or unwell people as inspirational characters in media that when we’re anything other
than unnaturally upbeat it seems like we’re playing the victim when really we’re just
having a little moan as anyone else would. Is just that our ‘little moans’ just seem
like ‘big problems’ compared to your flat tire but we don’t necessarily see them that
way, it’s just an issue of perception. Toxic positivity has a negative impact on
those with ‘othered’ bodies because it’s suggesting that acceptance of being in a place
society judges to be ‘not good enough’ is worse than making myself ill in the off
chance that I may ‘improve’. Knowing that your body will not become ‘the norm’ isn’t
pessimism, it’s just reality and that can be even more powerful than blind positivity. Taking disability or ill health out of the
equation for the minute: The funny thing about unrelenting positivity is that when you deny
or avoid unpleasant emotions, you make them bigger. Because you avoid the negative feeling
and don’t pay attention to it, it sits in the back of your mind getting bigger and more
significant because it’s unprocessed. It is completely healthy to sometimes feel
worried or traumatised or sad when you’re dealing with a difficulty with your body.
You don’t have to be inspirational 24/7 because the only person you need to inspire
is yourself. In fact, research shows that accepting, not rejecting, negative emotions
helps diffuse them and over time leads to better psychological health. The study, published
in the journal ‘Emotion’, found that focussing too intently on happiness can cause us to
actually obsess over any not-happy feelings, leading to greater unhappiness overall. This
is because the negative emotions are experienced as signs of failure rather than just being
what they are: normal. Having said that, if your negative feelings
are overwhelming and affecting your everyday life, please do seek help for them. And since we’re talking about mental health:
sufferers of severe depression do not need to be told “it gets better” and “try
to be positive” because, come on, think it through, is that actually helpful or is
that just berating them? Yep, you’re correct: it’s unhelpful. It’s something I’m trying to unlearn myself
because it’s really, really not sustainable! By avoiding difficult emotions you’re actually
losing valuable information and learning experiences that could help you in the long run, even
if that’s just appropriately identifying a fear and… I’m just realising I turned
dealing with negative emotions into a positive. – I’m still learning! So how do we avoid ‘toxic’ positivity
whilst still being generally pleasant people? – unless you only find happiness in being
a Disney villain. In which case: you do you, you do fabulous you. Well, firstly, saying “get well soon”
is all well and good but doesn’t work for those with a chronic illness: they’re not
going to ‘get better’, it’s an identity, not a state of being and accepting that doesn’t
mean they’re ‘giving in’, just that they’re appreciating themselves for who
they are. Of course you can say ‘get well soon’ to your mum if she has a cold. But
to your friend who is NEVER going to ‘get well’ anyway try something like ‘I hope
you have a better day tomorrow’ or ‘hope you have lots of spoons later’. Secondly, avoid platitudes like “it will
get better” or “it could be worse” and instead just listen to the person. Ask them
how they’re really feeling and what they want to talk about. When they tell you that
they’re sad, sympathise with compassion but neutrally. And lastly, let the person know that you love
and support them as they are right now, negative feelings and all. This applies to more than
just mental health concerns: whether it’s a break up or a job loss, let the person know that
they don’t need to show their happy, positive face in order to receive your acceptance. Of course, I don’t want to take away from
the fact we all have very different brains and that, for some of us, a diet of pure positivity
is the best way forwards and there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty if you don’t want
to deal with your own negative feelings but instead prefer to live a life full of only
#motivational instagram posts. For me personally, I don’t find the idea
of fighting against my illness to be helpful- even if it’s framed in a really positive
light. I work daily to maintain the health I do have and to manage my conditions. Mainly
that’s through very boring things like checking the list of ingredients carefully or making
sure I have enough pills in case a zombie apocalypse happens. You know, normal stuff(!) But I’m also going to, for my own mental
health, start actively imagining my future with me as an ill person – I have a very overactive imagination. You
name a potential scenario I might be in 10 years from now and I can bet you I’ve already
imagined it. And, to me, that’s actually the most positive
and exciting thing I can do. Try it yourself and let me know your own experiences
with toxic positivity in the comments below. Also, yes, Pollyanna does become disabled
in the book and it actually makes her stronger and I really associated with that as a child
and I love that book despite parts of it probably being problematic through a modern gaze so
let’s just roll with it. [beat] That’s a disabled joke. See you next time! [kiss]


  • Reply Júlia Lins March 7, 2020 at 3:55 am

    This is beautiful 🙂

  • Reply enname mori March 7, 2020 at 3:57 am

    Mmm. My sister in law who tells me that my rheumatoid arthritis will heal if only I had a better attitude.

  • Reply grey roses March 7, 2020 at 4:03 am

    In my early twenties I was beset with a number of chronic illnesses, & as a member of a group of recently graduated merit scholarship college folk who were all doing appropriately amazing things, I was the only one trapped at home & struggling to stay afloat at all. Daily I clobbered myself with 'It could be worse, people have worse, I could be worse' (& of course thanks to the Magic of Chronic Illnesses, I now AM), until finally my best friend got sick of it & snapped, 'YES, it could be worse, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN IT DOESN'T SUCK NOW.' And that is why I am any shade of sane these days, some twenty odd years later. She gave me permission to be so very angry about it, which ironically draws the mental poison. Bless her.

  • Reply D Beiler March 7, 2020 at 4:06 am

    I really needed this video today. Ive never heard of this, but it makes SO MUCH SENSE! Thank you so much!

  • Reply Forced Feedback Classic Game Reviews March 7, 2020 at 4:11 am

    This is spot on for those of us who deal with mental health issues, too. I've dealt with manic depression most of my life and nothing hurts worse than people telling me "happiness is a choice". Thank you for your wonderful videos, Jessica.

  • Reply Alena Verhalen March 7, 2020 at 4:18 am

    I really like this video it's such an important topic. In my view your videos don't come off as toxic positivity in that you DO acknowledge that disability, chronic illness, etc. SUCKS sometimes but you do generally have a positive attitude about it. I can't really recall you telling others they have to be only positive though 🤷🏻‍♀️ personally you really inspire me to be more positive and I really am thankful for that 💛

  • Reply Mackenzie Drake March 7, 2020 at 4:24 am

    I was only diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma a few years ago, but I was a competitive gymnast for most of my childhood. When we had to run I would get all blotchy and have severe breathing difficulties, but when I would get the chance to sit and focus on breathing I would get better, which led many of my coaches to tell me to quit whining and just to work on my endurance. Even after I was diagnosed and explained my experiences with running he simply told me that I need to relax and breathe when running. Really? Breathe? Hadn’t thought of that

  • Reply Bridget Moore March 7, 2020 at 4:26 am

    I was more a 'What Katy Did' disabled gal than a Pollyanna gal. So it's all leadership and being the loving centre of the home and ALWAYS being kind and understanding. Almost a radical kind of love?
    But one of the disabled characters is allowed to wear bracelets to make herself more pleasing to the ableds, so she wouldn't be isolated and alone, and I do like pretty things.

  • Reply Alena Verhalen March 7, 2020 at 4:28 am

    Ok it really bothers me when people say that thinking bad thoughts brings bad things upon yourself, like what?? No!

  • Reply Michel Hébert March 7, 2020 at 4:34 am

    I really think that the best way to be there for someone is to listen to them. Listening is a sign of importance that you allow to be demonstrated without saying a single word. I think it's something that cannot be done just to manipulate a person to fall in their good graces (you mostly feel it when it's not genuine) and also some people, even if they want to listen, are not able to because of other aspects. But, when you're capable of being an ear for someone with true good motives, the impact you make on the life of others can be enormous. After all, we all search for a validation of our importance in this world.

  • Reply T Lasa March 7, 2020 at 4:48 am


  • Reply suzanne read March 7, 2020 at 4:54 am

    Good on you. keep it up. Think we all need it. Something to be proud of Jessica.

  • Reply Deborah Orwig March 7, 2020 at 5:00 am

    What an honest discussion of a worthwhile topic!

  • Reply juliana March 7, 2020 at 5:08 am

    it's just about meeting people where they're at. it's not always possible/desirable in every circumstance, but part of being a good, compassionate, empathetic friend is meeting them where they're at, and sitting there for a little while. i can't tell you how many times my dad has dismissed my anxiety with toxic positivity, or my mom saying i was "too good" a child to actually have adhd. it's so important to sit in difficult moments and accept your feelings, and receiving support from loved ones, before trying to change whatever situation you're in, or change how you think about what situation you're in

  • Reply Definitely a human March 7, 2020 at 5:16 am

    Because I’m relatively pessimistic, I usually say “oh RIP dude” because I have no idea how to socialize, much less comfort or console someone who needs it. Also, I tend to minimize emotion, so, if I got cancer or something, I’d probably say something along the lines of “whoops. Oh well”. :/ I don’t know if I’m just socially awkward and don’t know how to express emotions or what.

  • Reply Rose Hill March 7, 2020 at 5:16 am

    I have never thought about the constant lines of toxic postivity re my undiagnosed health struggles my family said may have added to The guilt and shame I have about my chronic illness. Something to talk to my psychologist about.

  • Reply Huzai March 7, 2020 at 5:28 am

    Couple years ago, on my mom's funeral, my aunt said that 'I was very lucky' that my mom succumbed to her illness since 'it could get much worst' and it'll be harder to take care of her later on. I knew she meant well but it hurts to hear that nevertheless 😓.

    Sometimes you don't have to say anything when anyone had a bad day or experiences. Just listen and be compassionate. That is all 💖.

  • Reply Lumina Lichtenengel March 7, 2020 at 5:29 am

    So my Dad found this meditation app and it just didn't seem right to me. When you're stressed he will always tell you, that his app will solve all your problems or that you just shouldn't be upset about xyz at all and that the app would fix it for you. I didn't know why it was rubbing me the wrong way. And now I know why. He is not giving me, or my mum, the space to feel bad or upset or even stressed. Every bit of negativity must be washed away by his meditation app. This video was really an eye opener! Thank you, Jessica!

  • Reply Joh King March 7, 2020 at 5:48 am

    Can anyone explain the spoons comment? I don't understand what Jessie means by it

  • Reply Widya Noorsasi March 7, 2020 at 5:57 am

    A reckless driver almost hit me when he drove pass the red light, when I told my parents they immediately telling me it's okay, thank God and just stop talking about it already. Oh and also, I have hearing impairment on left ear and whenever I want to discuss my hearing problem, people just dismiss me by saying but you can talk, you'll be fine or thank God you're not completely deaf. 😦😞😭😣

  • Reply Ruadhán 1334 March 7, 2020 at 6:06 am

    Given the day that I've had, this video is ominously serendipitous.

  • Reply e bunni March 7, 2020 at 6:14 am

    Oh man. I have the depression. And for years I suppressed almost every emotion I had; except the happy ones. It's still difficult for me to have certain emotions. For me acknowledging the bad in the world makes me feel better. I embroidered "life is suffering" on one of my sweaters, people think I'm weird but it brightens my day.

    Also one time I told someone I was struggling with the depression and she told me to "find my happy place". Two things struck me, 1) people don't understand what depression is 2) I don't have a happy place, my mind comes with me wherever I go and it brings the darkness.

  • Reply Reicha March 7, 2020 at 6:16 am

    This is what our social services did during school with me, and our social health insurance and disability service keeps doing to me. To which my reaction – to trusting them on what I'm capable of if I only think positively and then breaking as badly as, usually worse than, I anticipated over and over without it EVER having it acknowledged that I was right. That I was being a realist and not a (lazy, ontop, in their opinion) pessimist – has been to lie down and give up entirely.

    If noone is ever going to listen to what I need and what I'm able to do, and be willing to plan for this never ever ever changing, while HOPING for change, then I'll never get the help I need to lead a happy albeit less able life.

    It hurts that I realised this half my life ago, foretold basically everything that happened the following fourteen years, and still everyone around me is expecting a miracle without even praying.

    Or rather, a recovery without supplying any kind of therapy or habilitation that I COULD USE. Oh well, maybe in the future I'll be able to use it… =_=

    Seriously, I won a court case with these authorities telling the court what I couldn't do, only for them to ignore said exact issue for four years straight where THEY were supposed to supply help and support. Now I'm waiting to be EVICTED, with them being informed of the move-out date months ago, and they wait until NOW to go "oh yes, just apply for assisted living" "PHEW, so when can I move in?" "We'll get back to you in 3 months. Standard procedure."

    0ve Right. I'll just go be able enough to survive on the street then, for over three months. THANKS.

  • Reply Lyswenn March 7, 2020 at 6:17 am

    Your videos are essentially the materialisation of shower TED Talks and it's so refreshing.
    I suffer from chronic depression and generalized anxiety disorders so I get a bunch of comments about how "I should be more positive", I always brush it off till I rant about it to no one but myself at 2am and I'm so glad you're actually putting that energy to share with others.

  • Reply lifeoflena March 7, 2020 at 6:20 am

    This is off topic but I am living for this straight hair thing

  • Reply Lyswenn March 7, 2020 at 6:24 am

    Also, some of us suffer from intrusive thoughts and we genuinely cannot help having terribly negative (and downright disturbing) thoughts.
    The best therapist I've seen (and I've seen dozens!) has taught me that the best way to deal with them is to accept them. Visualise telling these thoughts "hello, I see you, I acknowledge you, feel free to leave when you're ready". That was the most helpful advice I could have received and it helped me reduce the amount of panic attacks I had due to these thoughts.

  • Reply SakuraShimiya March 7, 2020 at 6:33 am

    This made so many great points, i struggle badly with being that "motivational person" because you see so often as these people fighting disabilities being inspiring and hiding their emotions so i felt complaining about my issues or being negative was seen as weak and bad. I get scared, I don't force it upon others compared to my own self. I breakdown over just feeling sad, i'm happy as i am right now and i've accepted myself and illnesses but when something new pops along or we get flare ups i blame myself for not ignoring that. I love your videos so much jessica thank you for being here

  • Reply Alexandra Cenuse March 7, 2020 at 6:41 am

    Now I feel so bad,because I have certainly done things that align with toxic positivity to try and help people.
    I am afraid I have hurt my best friend more than actually help her now,because sometimes when she is super sad and going through a lot I just tell her some of these things in an attempt to try and get her to cheer up.
    Honestly I used to try and find actual solutions to problems or just listen to her but now it's gotten to the point where she is endangering her life and I don't know how to deal with it anymore, I tried to make her go to therapy but she refuses to talk to any professional about it and I don't want to message her mom and tell her about this stuff because I am afraid this would be a breech of our trust and she won't ever talk to me again.
    So I resorted to this, thinking that maybe it's gonna help her in a way, at least to think about what I'm saying and somehow realise that maybe life isn't as bad,but now I realise I might have hurt her more.

    Also if you couldn't tell by this comment we are in highschool and I'm totally not equipped to deal with depression,but as an ex sufferer I tried my best to give her advice that helped me, especially since we are similar in a lot of ways

  • Reply Yeah March 7, 2020 at 6:42 am

    Oh this helped so much to hear! I've been coming to terms with the fact that I'm physically disabled to some degree (no medical so not knowing exactly how is great. American gang is here dying slowly 0/) due to this and abuse and neglect for all of my life despite being a young adult now im still stuck at home with agoraphobia and struggling to get an education and a job and not in a good place and doing basic things is so hard for me but for the past few years whenever I've really talked about this I've been told "well then you just have to [thing someone takes for granted that I cannot actually do at all or if I can it'll take a very long time and struggle]" and then just aggressive positivity and people trying to solve my problem instead of just listening, suggesting things I've tried or can't try, and it gets to the point where I shut down and feel guilty because I feel like oh if I still have this problem it sounds to everyone like I want to have this problem like im just being argumentative and not letting them help me. So it really sucks. And I'm at/have been in stages in my life where due to trauma and a toxic environment where like, no, i'm not sure it's going to get better or I'm going to live the kind of life I want to live/escape this environment. Like promising myself that when there's no guarantee and saying oh I'll be happy only then for now i just have to suffer through it isn't helping either. Like i see that a lot with abuse survivors in adolescents everyone tells them oh it'll all get better when you turn 18! And then it doesn't. you're still at home. you're still being abused and suddenly no one cares about it from a legal standpoint so it's far too late to seek help. So all that toxic positivity turns to "well why aren't you trying harder to leave?" and victim blaming and it's just aaaaaaaah. So frustrating. This got longer than I expected but still thank you for the video and the reminder that it's ok for me not to force this on myself or to imagine the future with my physical disabilities completely gone and suddenly everything magically great since I struggle with that a lot also.

  • Reply Beverly Button March 7, 2020 at 6:43 am

    I love you, Jessica and Claudia.

  • Reply detsnumber1 March 7, 2020 at 6:48 am

    I wish I had some positive. I have become a negative Nelly in an entirely miserable way.

  • Reply Molly Hats March 7, 2020 at 6:58 am

    For what it’s worth, I typically keep up with people’s videos for YEARS before subscribing. I think you were the quickest subscribe I ever made.

  • Reply flibbertygibbette March 7, 2020 at 7:05 am

    "That really sucks, I'm sorry."
    "That sounds really hard to deal with."
    "I don't know what you're going through, but I know that it sounds difficult. You're amazing, even though you don't always feel like it."
    and one of my personal favorites: "Do you want to hear what I think/do you want help with solutions, or do you just want me to listen?" (and then honor that!)

    As somebody with chronic illness, who also has other friends with chronic illnesses, if anybody is reading this and looking for what to say… there's lots of ways to be supportive. Your job isn't to make someone feel better, your job as a friend is to be present and hold space.

    When people tell me "it will get better" I just want to throw things. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with other people's pain and suffering, so they want to make it go away to make themselves feel better. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable so you can be there for people and really listen with empathy. It isn't about you and we don't need you to fix our feelings. We are allowed to feel frustrated, and just need that to be acknowledged and validated. That's all we are asking.

    (And thank you to the brilliant friends who get it.)

  • Reply lynders11 March 7, 2020 at 7:11 am

    First off, I find your videos so incredibly helpful and eye opening. You've helped me to recognize and check some well meaning but potentially harmful behaviors and perceptions so thank you for that.

    Secondly, I dig your style.

    Thirdly… you have an absolutely lovely speaking voice. Have you ever considered publishing something like a guided sleep or meditation video. I almost always watch your videos before bed because I find your voice and cadence so incredibly relaxing (while simultaneously being insightful and/or entertaining).

  • Reply Ruby's Musings March 7, 2020 at 7:27 am

    My husband is a Pollyanna! My youngest will always douse me with either toxic positivity or a lecture with rolling of the eyes that I am not being positive enough…my middle daughter as well. I get to the point that I feel stupid, and really don't share how I am feeling on any level, and push through with a smile plastered on my face. It's very frustrating.

  • Reply Siriliasa March 7, 2020 at 7:30 am

    I think this is something that applies to more than just disability. While for the most part I'm pretty lucky and the people in my life are mostly understanding of my chronic illness, I feel like I still see toxic positivity used against all sorts of minorities. Oppressed people airing grievances with those they trust only to be met with "well it could be worse!" or "keep fighting, you have to be the change you want to see!" is very tone deaf and disheartening. It doesn't acknowledge the suffering they're actually going through in the present, almost like the positivity is a way for the listener to avoid feeling uncomfortable or empathizing.

    I think a lot of people could benefit from giving this video a watch, the message is pretty universally applicable.

  • Reply Orthia Nz March 7, 2020 at 7:34 am

    "when I see myself as a mum, I don't have any physical limitations" It's not just me!! laughing tears Thank you!

  • Reply Rachel Daniels March 7, 2020 at 7:45 am

    Really well explained. Something I couldn’t put in words.
    My default is thinking I have control over things, I do not have control over. Which makes it easier to blame myself for things that happen and I actually need to learn to accept

  • Reply Monstergirl inc March 7, 2020 at 7:52 am

    I think this "toxic positivity" applies to really any hardship. for example people with depression, u can't just say "think positive" and honestly even if someone is just temporarily sad about something it can be problematic.

  • Reply James Trenoweth March 7, 2020 at 7:56 am


  • Reply Elissa Colwill March 7, 2020 at 7:58 am

    Ayyyy I love pollyanna too! (Despite it being sickeningly positive)

  • Reply Eva March 7, 2020 at 8:09 am

    Thank you, this was such a helpful video – as a very much born optimist I'm always afraid I'm belittling my friends' complaints and worries through my reactions, and this helped me see how to make sure I don't do that.

  • Reply Emma Flood March 7, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Thank you for this video! I have been told I’m a really negative person (a Debbie downer) I have to really try to have a positive attitude about things. My flatmate in uni however was very toxicly positive. Once during a bout of depression she told me I should just be positive… like thaaaanks? She also used to make me feel like my negativity was effecting her and that I should just keep quiet about any bad feelings to save her from being uncomfortable.

  • Reply Lauren March 7, 2020 at 8:16 am

    This reminded me of when I learned about the “law of attraction.” That by feeling healthy I would be more healthy. I felt blamed and scared for supposedly thinking myself into illness.

  • Reply rs88 March 7, 2020 at 8:23 am

    Oh god yes. I'm on the autism spectrum and have had a range of weird physical symptoms which can probably be attributed to nervous system problems due to stress and trauma. Not great but I'm getting therapy for trauma and I think that has the potential to make a difference.
    I got too ill to continue my education at 14, got admitted to a mental health clinic later and got diagnosed with ASD at 16. Made various attempts to continue my education but all of them failed. Two and a half years later I still dream of getting a diploma but right now it just really isn't looking like it.
    I want to move on, work on accepting it, and try to find meaning in life other than work and education. But EVERYONE around me keeps saying "oh but you will be able to get a diploma! You're so clever! You can do it!" Which is frustrating because cleverness isn't the problem, fatigue and constant stress are. I'm currently trying very hard to convince everyone involved with me/my life to let go of the school thing and work on finding meaning.
    Saying no to school now doesn't mean I'm saying no to school forever. It just means that I dont want to be remembered of all the failures and dont want to keep setting myself up for another disappointment. And saying no now, might make room for growth and learning so I might be able to say yes in 5 years or something.

  • Reply elissa Deanna March 7, 2020 at 8:27 am

    This all makes sense… I understand whare alot of my problems are coming from. I was held as the positive chilled the happy chilled all of the time when I was little and so a decent extent still am. I would always be positive and happy even if my brain was telling me "you are bad at everything" and " everyone would be better off without you" or " nothing ever gets better you know that". I was always told to ignore them and just be positive. By myself I let myself work threw the less than happy feelings but am still trying to find a way to tell family and close friends what has Ben going on in my head all this time and how not a happy chilled I was and am.

  • Reply Sally Chugg March 7, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Your positive attitude is infectious more people need it love your blogs makes my week 👍👍👏👏👏

  • Reply figmo397 March 7, 2020 at 8:38 am

    When my maternal grandmother had terminal cancer my mother used to make me smile when we went to visit Grandmom in the hospital. One afternoon when my parents were out and Grandmom’s car was in the driveway, I drove to the hospital to visit her without Mom.

    Grandmom asked, in an annoyed tone, “Why does your mother always put on that stupid friggin’ smile when she comes to visit?” I felt validated because I believe in being real.

  • Reply darcysgurl March 7, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Your videos make me a better person . Thank you

  • Reply Danielle Cooper March 7, 2020 at 9:15 am

    "It could be worse" is one of, if not the most, invalidating phrases in existence. Thank you for making me feel worse than I already do! How awful is it to be made to feel guilty of your emotions, something you truly cannot control?

  • Reply Leena M March 7, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Oof, I feel called out 😄 I'm definitely guilty of getting upset about any negative thoughts and emotions I have towards my illness

  • Reply Alice Mary-Anne March 7, 2020 at 9:34 am

    I needed this ❤️

  • Reply Anastasia S. March 7, 2020 at 9:34 am

    1:16 Oh my god, I HATE this saying. Sorry, Les Brown, but not reaching the Moon WILL NOT help you land among the stars, the Sun is the closest star to the Earth, arghhh… I have it in my classroom as it was placed there by the previous teacher, and I want to ask for it to be taken down.

    As for the video in general. Interesting! I also didn't know that's what this was called, but I've tried not to do it. And I like to think I succeeded, too.

  • Reply Bitch What March 7, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Sentences like:
    "It'll pass, don't worry!"
    "Many people are struggling even more than you!"
    "I'm sure you'll find happiness soon!"
    "Just look at the bright side!"
    "You're still alive, that means you can keep going"

    Ngl as a depressed and suicidal person, i find that annoying and hurting. Not because I refuse to be happy, I just HATE BEING FORCED to be happy. Then my thoughts be like "Why cant you see it the positive way? You're so ungrateful, disgusting". So yes, its not helping. We are aware that those people are trying to help us, but that attitude is actually not empathetic at all. That's like saying "You're not that sad, you just need to see the world brightly. Lol."
    Sometimes all we need is someone to listen, not giving us these bs. Sometimes we just need someone to be there for us without spitting "BE HAPPY" stuffs. Now many people are going to tell me that I'm ungrateful for refusing the positive words, but toxic positivity EXISTS. Even professional counselors are not gonna throw us those crap. Thanks for coming to my ted talk.

  • Reply RockerCatErrorEncountered 404 March 7, 2020 at 9:51 am

    I just experienced this a few days ago. I have debilitating, borderline disabling, social anxiety. I can't get a job, I can barely go to my classes, I spend most of my time shut away inside my dorm. I had become pretty good friends with a girl from one of my college classes and we were having dinner together at the dining hall. I was talking about social anxiety because when there's a lull in conversation my brain goes "tell them about your deepest vunerabilities!" for some reason. I was met with "oh I had that too", "you'll get over it with time", "it's not so bad". I tried to make her understand that this wasn't just normal shyness, I've been socially anxious for 10 years, it's not just going to go away one day. She kept up that damn optimism until I was nearly in tears trying to make her understand that living everyday life is a struggle for me. I have a similar qualm with the "ADHD is a gift" argument. People will pull the "you don't have a disorder, you just function differently" thing and like, yeah, that's true, but I would really prefer it if I didn't function differently. The nature of a disorder is that I function in a way that doesn't match up with other people.

  • Reply halima ahmed March 7, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Idk if she ever got this but why does she looks like old actress or some model on a product from 60's also ps I am not talking about someone specific, nor am I a person that watches older films.

  • Reply Emo Peter Parker March 7, 2020 at 10:19 am

    i think it would also be helpful if there were more videos highlighting toxic positivity vs being anti-recovery. there's a fine line between these two, but it may be blurred sometimes.

  • Reply Kyle Osborne March 7, 2020 at 10:36 am

    fabulously twirls villainous mustache

  • Reply Emily Sevier March 7, 2020 at 10:41 am

    What does having a lot of spoons mean?

  • Reply FriendlyShark Ce March 7, 2020 at 10:42 am

    I've heard several health-stuff people who know about my chronic illnes "Get well soon" thanks Karen for talking to me about that application for an electric wheelchair, please don't tell me to GET BETTER.

  • Reply Johanna Geisel March 7, 2020 at 10:54 am

    Realistically looked at, my life will only get worse.
    I'm 35, without a boyfriend/partner, without children and with a job I don't know how long I can handle because I'm always so exhausted.
    If I lose that job, I will probably never find another one. Or at least not one I can do.
    My hair is falling out, I'm getting fatter and fatter, my appartment is a complete mess and I just want to sleep.
    If feel so horribly lonely, but my chances of ever finding somebody I love and who loves me back are decreasing each day.

    So, I am very allergic to all kinds of positivity.
    I have hoped and tried for so long and it always ended in defeat. If now somebody comes and tells me there is still a chance for me, I cannot take them seriously. That chance is so tiny that I should not reckon with it.

  • Reply Christopher Metcalf March 7, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Self awareness is the most powerful tool in I proving your life.

  • Reply Charlotte Givney March 7, 2020 at 11:26 am

    damn i love this.
    i want to send this to my cousin who called me "closed minded" and told me i had no friends because i was always "so negative" and then blocked me on social media because i asked people to NOT GIVE MY SON CHRISTMAS PRESENTS BECAUSE WE DON'T CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS!
    i have never hidden my more negative moments in my life because that would be hiding an entire aspect of who i am as a person diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and a few other psychological and possibly neurological issues that i am looking into. to have had anybody try and say its my own fault i have so few friends was very damaging to me when that happened. there's nothing wrong with seeing the good in things, i tend to do that a lot myself, but you have to be able to express the darker things too.

  • Reply Jamie Nevill March 7, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Best comment to me: "Just think how things will be in a year's time! " Erm….yeah! A year ago I just had a painful twinge every now and again in one heel. Now, I have two VERY painful heels after the operation went wrong, epilepsy & chronic migraines! Still, at least a piano hasn't fallen on my head. Boooiiiiingggg!!!!

  • Reply Purple Kitten March 7, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Once when I was telling a friend about my mental health she told me in a very patronizing way: ”If you really wanted to feel better, you would be by now. You’ll understand it later.” Another annoying thing that people keep telling me is: ”Why are you not feeling better?”. And, if I happen to be feeling better and tell them that, they say: ”Nah, you’re clearly not better”.

  • Reply Matilda Taube March 7, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Thank you for addressing this. <3
    I really recommend the work by Dr. Laurie Santos, who in her podcast (The Happiness Lab) and Free Yale Course (with subtitles!) where she talks about, amongst other things, the danger of positive thinking.

  • Reply Viivi v.G March 7, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    Ah, you have just collected all my thoughts and made something sensible about them!
    And I never realized that when I think about future, I also imagine myself without my disabilities. 😅

  • Reply Mitchelle March 7, 2020 at 12:12 pm


  • Reply Rusty Recommends March 7, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Ten yrs from now, 3 yrs after the start of the zombie apocalypse… where do you see yourself?

  • Reply Janet Graham-Russell March 7, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    As I say, disabled people have the right to be a shit as much as anyone else.

  • Reply Terve Pukki March 7, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Waaaait, when did she get this many subscribers

  • Reply Peter B March 7, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    As someone who has experienced depression for about 60yrs toxic positivity is not so much a problem from myself, just toxicity!

    The people who display toxic positivity towards me are dealt with a quick "oh just fcuk off", although it depends how toxic I feel.

  • Reply Elizabeth Rice March 7, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    I swear, any time I make plans around my disabilities, like setting up accommodations at school or work or when I got my service dog, there's someone in my life who hears I'm planning to be able to survive as I am and chastises me for not being optimistic enough that things will get better. That annoys me the most because I actually have gotten better in the year since getting my service dog and don't need his assistance outside of the home as often, but that doesn't mean I never should have got him, it means his work load is lighter than it once was. Planning to be capable of having a good life if I stay just as I am doesn't mean I wouldn't love to be healthier.

  • Reply MiriamClairify March 7, 2020 at 1:17 pm

  • Reply Shannon Griffin March 7, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    If I could remove the words 'at least' from the English language I would. I can't stand 'at least'. All I hear is that I'm not allowed to be sad.

  • Reply Sarah Beebe March 7, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    I didn't even have to start the video before I knew I needed to share it with my mother. Of course, her toxic positivity hurts her just as much as it hurts the rest of us. I'm pretty sure that was how my grandmother raised her kids to deal with mental health, just keep repeating the positives and it will end eventually. She's not even nice about it half the time, telling us to find the silver lining in everything.

  • Reply anna.czarniecka March 7, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Me and my therapist went through seeing things and emotions in ones life as “positive” and “negative” quite overall damaging so I try not to use those terms at all if possible, it really helps! You just name things as they are and yes of course hope and seeing things in a good light and focusing on good and exciting parts is fantastic, it’s important to learn and accept all your feeling and emotions are valid and don’t label them as something “negative” because that can be assimilated as “bad”! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

  • Reply Mackenzie Dillon March 7, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    I played Pollyanna in a play last year. She was so fun to embody because of her childish wonderlust and playfulness.

  • Reply Tehgan B March 7, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    My mother complains that I “complain and can’t do things then blame my body(aka WHAT’S FAILING ME)”… well, it’s not MY fault my body gives up on me, I can’t eat most foods without being sick, I faint and blackout whenever I stand up, or my joints seize up! It’s called a MEDICAL CONDITION. Unfortunately I’ve went 24 years of being told “it’s anxiety” and she believes it or says I’m “not owning up to my actions by saying it’s the illness” (I lash out every so often because I’m sick of my body, it’s gotten less frequent now that I’ve been diagnosed with something that’s NOT anxiety). Apparently I “don’t try hard enough with medication”, well, it stops working or I throw up! Hell, she even believed a doctor when they said I was anorexic and REFUSED to do any tests until I got to 40kgs… 4 years of “anorexia” I was diagnosed with a stomach parasite and could have died! (And still causes me issues)

  • Reply Invaderbuggums March 7, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    I mostly have mental illness and some physical illness, but I most relate to this from the perspective of my PTSD. I'm trying to learn to accept that it is in many ways a life-long condition. No matter what I do, I can't magically "beat" or "deal with" it. It isn't going to go away. It's a huge struggle to come to terms with. Even if I establish a better mindset and coping mechanisms, I can't erase the things that have happened to me. That doesn't mean I don't have a future worth having, and I think I'm going to follow your advice and try to imagine my future with a more accurate vision of myself (i.e. not perfectly healthy and fine)

  • Reply Mel W March 7, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Does Jessica have any fabulous videos about how to support your partner who has a chronic illness/chronic pain? I know one of you here in the comments will know! Thanks in advance

  • Reply Ashlley Marie Pinote March 7, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    That "silver lining" tho

  • Reply SuzieMaster March 7, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    I am probably as negative outwards, as you are positive! But although, I think we're extremely similar in core in this aspect!

    I think my strategy came because I've had my biggest "health crisis" during depressive episodes. I have an unusual psychiatric condition since childhood (imagine a mix between autism and social anxiety) and as child and teen I didn't accept it, kinda complained that "everybody else are idiots". But after my first crisis, I just accepted it, just like what people call "see myself as victim", eventually together with, after getting physically sick too, "labeling" myself as "chronically ill". If I've mentioned this in the wrong place, people get really offended (like: "so you're just at home living off of my taxes?!"-offended). But to me it's almost the opposite. With accepting my position, accepting that I cannot work full time or do certain things, I can focus on what is left. I can then get a part time job that I can manage, rather than seeking a full time job and ending up being on sick leave all the time.

    When it comes to "toxic positivity" in response, I agree. Just sent an email to a teacher with a short description of why I was sick this week (mentioning "chronically ill") and got the response "Hope you'll get well soon" LOL! (will I contain myself from responding with the obvious "I won't get well soon, but thanks"?) If it is only briefly I don't mind: it's just a phrase that we've learnt (although one could always try to change ours). But in a deeper conversation, it's not great. The person comforting someone who's ill, should although be more positive than the person at that moment, I think. But that doesn't mean neglecting it all and say "you'll be fine", because that would be too far off, and just rude. That response seem to me, only that the person didn't listen (because often you'd tell them facts of things)… gah. (Here refering to the "what not to say to chronically ill people"-video and more by Jessica, for further specifications lol)

  • Reply SaucerJess March 7, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    Happy brain injury awareness month 💙

  • Reply VeryNot March 7, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    I have ADHD and am probably on the spectrum, and I am the mother to a great kid who shares my flavor of challenges with some extra added anxiety for spice. I actually find toxic positivity offensive and I have zero patience for it. It usually comes for a controlling, gaslighting place, where the person spewing it feels uncomfortable with disability, they don't want to hear about it, they don't want to deal with reality, they want to be in control and resent someone who is stealing focus or presenting something they cannot fix/control, and/or they want to be a hero. The kind of toxic positivity I'm talking about NEVER comes from a good place, it always comes from a self-centered place. You can quickly suss it out the second you try to explain why their simplistic suggestion of "just hang in there!" isn't helpful and they get offended and imply you're not doing enough to help yourself. True toxic positivity is just old-fashioned bootstrap mentally dressed up in a Hallmark card poem. If you reject it, I guess you really just want to wallow in your problems, right?

    And don't get me started on how ADHD and autism are magical gifts bestowed upon you by fairies and unicorns and you should embrace your different brain! I mean, I do accept and embrace my weird brain, and I wouldn't change it, but that doesn't mean my struggles don't exist and it doesn't mean I haven't gone through hell to get where I am. Disabilities aren't superpowers, and that idea is so condescending, especially coming from able-bodied/able-brained people.

    That said, I separate toxic positivity from people who are genuine in their attempts to help. People really need to learn to listen and accept, but I get that it can be hard to watch someone you love struggle. When loved ones try to help with positivity, I try to just nod my head and push it to the back of my brain. Sometimes I try to explain why it isn't helpful. Depends on the day and how many spoons I have.

  • Reply Aishling Ní Faoláin March 7, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Toxic positivity is a very hard thing to stop, especially because so many people around me often practice toxic negativity. I just want to help literally everyone, and it's hard to accept that sometimes I would be better off just to listen

  • Reply Darth Blob March 7, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    I have to deal with disabling chronic pain and my mom loves asking me to "stop being so negative and sick" because "it makes her feel bad" and apparently it's even worse than what I have to deal with on daily basis
    Naturally, I avoid seeing and talking to my family as much as possible, I'd rather go through this shit on my own.

  • Reply C D March 7, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    I had a friend for 22 years. We became friends in first grade. We stopped being friends about 3 years ago because she thought I was too negative and ungrateful for what I have in life such as my cars and laptop. At the time I was dealing with finding my own diagnosis and my grandmother who had just had a stroke and developed dementia and my family was in upheaval learning to deal with it, but any time She asked me how I was doing it got to the point where I could lie and act like everything was great, so I had to say good bye to my best friend of 22 years.

  • Reply Anna Rehbinder March 7, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    It made me a lot sicker since people both doctors and surroundings was encouraging me to push myself with the result My cronic illnesses accelerated and they were basically telling me I was a bad person because I couldn’t Cure myself which I internaliserad so I became severly deppressed,suicidal, worse and of course wasn’t getting the medications and physical aids I needed. I have a lot better life quality Now – physical aids including electrical wheelchair, bath elevator, actual proper pain medication ( though needs tweeking) and using all the shit I’ve experienced doing politics! And oh I’ve started to answer when people ask do you have any children?-I can’t have children as well as are you going to get better No, it’s chronic progressive . Because If they ask that they should get the uncomfortable truth and KNOW you do not ask that!

  • Reply Galia de la Rosa March 7, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    My aunts believing that my mom will one day be cured from Parkinsons by prayer, toxic positivity or finding the 'magical treatment' or the 'prodigy medic' instead of focusing on how slowly the desease is worsening and how independent she still is has been so unhelpful and straight up damaging

  • Reply Edd VCR March 7, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    I used to work in an environment that was the embodiment of toxic positivity. The company repeatedly told you to show up only as the best version of you everyday, and the attitude was basically “be positive or die.” As someone with chronic condition, I physically can’t be the best version of myself every single day and be in the very top of my game every moment I’m there.
    Anybody who was struggling was seen as negativity that brings other positive people down, and was despised for not living the insanely positive brand lifestyle. If you were being crushed by unreasonable demands and workload, you were branded as being negative and not doing the “right thing,” which is to view it as “opportunities to step up to the plate and grow” and embrace them with a giant smile.
    Needless to say, my therapist told me that she gets so many people from that company as clients. And also needless to say, I quit working there after years of blaming myself of being less worthy than everybody else.

  • Reply Nula-v March 7, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Thank you for this! You put into words why positivity has started to bother me, or make me feel guilty. I didn't fully understand why, until this video.

  • Reply Eva Luna March 7, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    Love this video. thank you so much <3

  • Reply ZoeAlleyne March 7, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    I've had moments where I felt guilty watching your videos because you go through so much "more" disability issues than me and you have such a better attitude and I feel like a failure for not being more positive.

    But then I have the little Jessica Britishly telling me that it isn't a competition, that I don't need to worry about who is "more" disabled and positive.

    It is still somewhat new to me. I've been sick but a lack of mobility is new, mobility aids are new. And my Inner Jessica tells me to give myself a break and let me be annoyed at my situation, especially when it is still something I am not used to.

  • Reply Judy T. March 7, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Jessica I love and support you for you
    Have s great day .

  • Reply Pink Slice March 7, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    I've had this issue recently where a classmate told me if I truly believed in Jesus that I would be cured and hereditary illnesses can be stopped through belief. It just left me feeling pretty upset about everything, I know they didn't intend to upset me but it still hurts and the quantifying of my beliefs are enough etc etc

  • Reply sebeckley March 7, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    I dated a guy who told me that I "focused on death too much" when I asked him to learn how to use a life-saving device I kept in my home. So… you don't want to learn how to save my life? NEXT!

  • Reply María AC March 7, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    I'm bipolar and I swear everybody around me keeps telling me "not to be sad", like I change my mood to be fucked up on purpouse

  • Reply Kitsa Maria Hansen March 7, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    What does the [CC] in the end of video titel mean?? 🤔😃 PLEASE, CAN ANYONE HELP?? ❤️

  • Reply Roeleines March 7, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    This reminds me of the books by Mark Manson; 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck' and 'Everything's F*cked'. The writer argues against the ideas of becoming happy 24/7 and never experiencing anything negative in life, because it's an unrealistic goal and just make people MORE miserable instead of less. It's the antithesis of toxic positivity, I would say.

    A quote from 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck':

    'The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one's negative experience is itself a positive experience.'

    If you aren't familiar with the books, I can highly recommend them. I will admit, they are a type of 'self help' books, so geared at people who struggle with their mental health, and not so much physical disabilities or illness, but they are written in a very down to earth, witty and humorous way, so I'd say definitely worth reading.

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