One of the problems with toxic positivity is how it ignores, disregards, and dismisses negativity.
People come to see the idea of positivity as being all-or-nothing. All negativity, all bad should be dismissed, set aside, and not looked at in the least.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We live in a Universe of yin and yang. Polar opposites like black and white, tall and short, fat and thin, and other notions with lots of grey and color between them. One cannot exist without the other. Every coin has two sides.
The Universe is less like a coin and more like a cylinder with flat ends. On the one side, ‘X’, on the other side, ‘Y’, and a whole lot of distance between them. In this example, positivity is ‘X’ and negativity is ‘Y’.
Neutrality is in the middle. Everything else can lean one way or the other. However, it goes deeper than that — because those opposite ends of the cylinder can instantly be swapped, too. That’s how a positive, happy, amazing relationship becomes a negative, miserable, awful relationship.
Change relationship to job. Plan. Friendship. Idea. Or any other tangible or intangible concept you can conceive of.
Hence why conflict, negativity, and things that might trigger you are necessary. To strive for the positive side, you need to know the negative. And, more than that, you need to recognize that something positive now can turn negative later.
The importance of conflict
Lots of people hate conflict and confrontation. They will do anything and everything they can to avoid them.
But then, they will often accept things they don’t want; make sacrifices they feel are necessary due to false beliefs in lack and scarcity; live small because to live large requires confrontation and conflict.
That’s why people don’t ask for raises; don’t seek out better representatives among politicians and demand accountability on their parts; remain in comfort zones that aren’t comfortable.
Conflict is necessary for growth. If you don’t cross the valley you can’t get to the other side. When you don’t take the chance and apply for the job or ask that person out you gain nothing. To get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ you often must cross a bridge — but you’ll have to deal with resistance along the way.
Conflict can be internal or external. External we’re much more familiar with. It also tends to involve things we have little to no control over. Internal is what we face most often — and tend to try to avoid.
I am conflicted about including discussing triggers and their necessity here. But I am facing that and writing about it anyhow.
More often than not, conflict is an opportunity. It presents a situation — tangible or intangible — where you must make a choice. You must decide on something that will impact your life and create growth and change.
Because when all is said and done — the choices and decisions you make are the only way you grow, change, and evolve. Or more specifically, control your growth, changes, and evolution.
Negativity is necessary
There are lots of good reasons to tell somebody “NO”. Many of them are about protecting that person, helping them to avoid mistakes, or not getting involved with them and their drama.
However, “NO” also gets abused a lot. We see so much impossibility and lack, scarcity, and insufficiency, that we accept a dark, bleak, hopeless perspective for the now and the future.
As much as this feels bad it’s still necessary. Why? Balance. The yin and yang must exist. To know the good, you must know the bad. To feel positivity, you have to feel negativity.
Choice comes into play when it comes to what dominates your inner being. When your mindset/headspace/psyche is dominated by negativity it will hold you back. All that negativity will keep you small and prevent you from taking your life where you desire for it to be.
Recognize that the negativity gives you something to strive for. Like conflict, negativity shows you what you DON’T desire to have. It also offers you an opportunity to change your focus to its opposite.
You can’t deny, avoid, and disavow negativity. It WILL occur, and it will come from both within and without. Positivity is not employed to destroy negativity — it’s employed to give you choices and decisions to take control. When the negative occurs it’s the positive that you get to use to pull yourself out of the funk, choose a new direction, and take control back.
Positivity is not meant to avoid and ignore negativity — but to keep you from lingering in a bad place. In our fear-based society that’s far too easy to do. Positivity — it’s opposite — is the ladder to help you climb out of depression, anxiety, and similar states of being.
Triggers are external happenings that produce discomfort, upset, fear, and other negative responses. These can be purely mental/emotional — or even physical. Triggers can cause hyperventilating, increase heart rate, and other fear-based reactions.
Many people seek to avoid triggers. This is perfectly understandable, particularly when it involves a trauma such as rape, abuse, death, and similar. It’s also understandable when the response is PTSD.
But other triggers should be faced more than avoided.
For example, people who are triggered by poor phrasing choices and misgendering. I am not discounting that you feel the way you feel — but I am questioning your reaction. Does getting upset help? When exposure to something material or immaterial triggers a primal negative reaction should you keep avoiding it — or face it and work with it?
I do not know the answer because I’m not inside your head. Neither am I discounting the validity of what and how you feel when you are triggered. But I am asking you to evaluate if this is something you can do something about.
For example, if you’ve been robbed at gunpoint you are a victim of a violent crime. While that won’t change — you do have a choice for how long you will hold onto the victim mentality.
Yes, I know this topic is a trigger for some. But I also know people who are ALWAYS victims — so triggers are everywhere. They have chosen to not face the fear, the negative, the thing that upsets them. They call them triggers and then avoid them as best they can.
Avoiding them will never change them. Practicing a victim mentality means you keep yourself disempowered. A victim mentality is all about giving your power away.
Hence why it IS a choice you make. Or don’t.
There are ALWAYS choices and decisions available
There are going to be circumstances and situations where you have limited choices. There may not be a whole lot of viable options. Or, what choices you do have are extreme.
But there are ALWAYS choices available. So long as you draw breath and live you have choices. You can decide where to go, what to do, and how to do it.
I am well aware that some people have major limitations on their choices. This is due to life situations, biases, prejudices, and other societal bullshit. My struggles in life as a white, middle-class male are VERY different from the struggles of a black, working-class female. But while I acknowledge that — and recognize the differences between us — it makes neither of our life challenges more nor less than the other’s.
Unless, of course, I disregard my privilege and act in an arrogant, inappropriate, ugly way. I don’t think I need to give examples of this here — but if you really want one, I give you Mitch McConnell.
The point here is that so long as you exist you have choices. Decisions range before you. You need conflict, negativity, and triggers to know what they are and choose/decide to seek, find, and/or create their opposites.
This takes work. It’s an ongoing process. But when you recognize this and work with it, you can use positivity to choose and decide what’s best for you. Work with and through negativity, conflicts, and triggers to get to the other side.
You can live a life with more potential and possibilities than limits and lack. Everyone goes through challenges and difficulties in their lives. But the choice for whether to change things — or allow yourself to linger where you don’t desire to be — is yours to make.