The idea of cultivating gratitude is everywhere you go. Gratitude is indeed good for your overall mental health including dealing with depression and anxieties. Here, we are going to talk about how gratitude and toxic positivity can overlap and what can you do to embrace gratitude without toxic positivity?
What is Toxic Positivity?
Positive thinking is when you cultivate feelings and experiences by focusing on a positive outcome. This approach can help when you are dealing with the fear that has no basis in reality but it carries some potentially toxic elements.
Some can use positivity to avoid genuine experiences that might have long-term effects on your future.
We often can’t choose how we feel but what we can do is change how we react to those feelings. Therefore, our reaction can alter our feelings. Toxic positivity is when we are ignoring the signs that something might go wrong by believing that everything will go well, without changing our approach to make sure that things turn out good for us.
The First Step Towards Gratitude is Curiosity?
Instead of ignoring reality, we should develop curiosity about how we truly feel and create a path towards the transformation of negative emotions into something positive that can lead us towards healthy growth.
Gratitude comes after acknowledging negative feelings and dealing with them first. We have to acknowledge those painful emotions to move into positive emotions. We feel grateful when we take action to improve our lifestyle and when we make those bold and uncomfortable decisions. Without acknowledging where we are, we can’t move forward.
Don’t Run Away from Negative Emotions
We might run away from negative emotions, saying to ourselves: “Everything will be alright. Just think positive.” The other approach might be feeling overwhelmed and blocked by negative emotions where we can’t move forward because we feel sorry about ourselves.
Toxic positivity is trying to move you away from the second “I feel sorry for myself” approach, not knowing there is a third approach.
The third approach leads to gratitude and the first step is acknowledging negative feelings and having a curious approach to understand why you feel the way you do. What is the root cause? What’s bothering you? What you can’t change? What can be and should be changed? The final step is creating a plan on what you should do to move from the negative feelings where you will proud and grateful for the effort and things you do. Once you feel grateful, you appreciate yourself more.
Negative Emotions are Trying to Tell us What’s Wrong
Negative emotions can stay stuck in our body. Also, if not processed those emotions can prevent us from growing as human beings sometimes even without our knowledge. Negative emotions are sending you a message about what’s wrong and what should be done differently. You need to pay attention to your emotions to understand what’s wrong and what needs to change.
For example, we might feel envious when we see other’s doing things and achieving things that we are not achieving. In those moments, we might suppress that feeling and start thinking that we should be grateful. The answer here is not staying stuck in the emotion of envy but finding a way to understand why we are envious. Almost in a playful way that will help us truly understand what we are missing in life. After we process that emotion, we should turn around and see what we have, what dreams and aspirations we have, what are we doing about it and how grateful we are for that as well.
This is a different approach from positive thinking. The gratitude should come from the heart, and it shouldn’t be forced. To be able to do that we have to deal with negative emotions and process them. Only when we raise from negative emotions, we can enjoy the feeling of gratitude and pride.
When you feel stuck, the action is important. What are you doing to change things? Be grateful that you are smart and brave enough that you are recognizing where you are, taking actions to move forward and proud of what you achieved so far. All of that should make you feel grateful.