Toxic Positivity

Here is a rant that’s been a long time coming. I’m not against people living their lives positively, or looking at the world through a lense of positivity. What I’m against is people forcing that positivity on others. For example, people that think illnesses can be cured through the power of positive thinking. People that try to tell you you would feel better if you were happier or that you aren’t trying hard enough because illness and pain is mind over matter.

I hate it when people use their positivity to put others down. Other people have it worse than you. Other people suffer more. Oh you’re hungry? Well some people don’t get to eat for days at a time. Everyone’s suffering is valid even when other people have it worse.

Then we have the people that have wealth and fortune and have had opportunities not everyone can have. I have been poor for my entire life. I work full time and barely scrape by. I have a chronic illness. When I have people tell me I’m not focused enough on my dreams, or I clearly don’t want it enough if I’m not just doing it, I start to see red. I can barely make it through a day of work. Sometimes after work I need a cane to get from the couch to the bathroom. Sometimes I can barely stand long enough to take a shower.

To have people tell me I’m not trying hard enough, that it’s mind over matter, that I clearly don’t want it enough, that I need to push harder, that I need to meditate and do yoga, or lose weight, or do this and do that, or eat better, or take more vitamins, or to think more positively and I can achieve anything I want. That’s not how it works. Some people have to work their asses off when they are too sick to work. Some people have to work full time and barely survive. Some people get handed shit after shit. Some people don’t get the opportunity to improve their lives. Some people don’t have access to proper health care. Some people have mental illness and other illness that people don’t take seriously.

Some people get opportunity. Some people get to live their dreams, or drop everything to pursue them. To get told I have a choice when the choice is to focus on myself and what I want when that would mean I cant provide for my family. That is not a true choice. Some people can’t drop everything to pursue what they want. People can’t just think positively and make millions of dollars. Some people can’t work on achieving their goals and dreams because they are too busy trying to stay even remotely healthy, or to not have mental breakdowns, or to not have the weight of everything they have to deal with crush them.

Some people don’t get the chance to do more than just survive. Some people don’t even get to do that. When I hear people tell me or others that they can achieve anything they set their mind to? It’s bullshit. It’s bullshit and it’s cruel to rub things like that in people’s faces when they can barely hold themselves together. When the only strength they have left is to keep themselves standing.

When someone you love is suffering. When someone you care about is stretched thin, burned out, sick, fatigued, exhausted, barely hanging on. Don’t tell them to think positively. Don’t give them advice they can’t follow. Don’t tell them to calm down, meditate, do yoga, think about how other people have it worse. Tell them you care, tell them you’re there. Tell them you love them. Don’t tell them how to improve. Don’t tell them they aren’t trying hard enough. Everytime someone tells me that, or tells me it’s mind over matter, it crushes me. It hurts. It cuts deep. I exist with chronic illness. I have dreams I can’t achieve because I don’t have the energy or health or money to pursue them. That’s the way it is. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that if I just smile more or “try harder” when I can barely stand, that I will achieve those dreams through positivity. I try what I can when I can. And if I can’t do it? Then at least I’m alive. At least I know I’ve tried, despite the world crushing me down over and over again. If you don’t have money, if you don’t have health, you can’t be expected to do more than those who have both. You can only do what you’re able to.

So for those of you suffering in any way shape or form. For those of you living your life and barely surviving. For those of you bearing the constant scrutiny and judgement of those around you, the forced positivity, being told you aren’t doing enough when you’re barely holding on, I’m sorry. I’m sorry the world isn’t more fair. I’m sorry we live in a world where not everyone gets to live the way they want. I’m sorry you have to suffer. I’m sorry and I see you.