We all have the instinct to try to make things better for friends and family when their lives are tough and getting them down – after all, saying “yeah, you’re right, that sucks” doesn’t seem like it would be the most helpful thing in the world.
Turns out our instincts are wrong, though. Luckily, psychotherapist Whitney Hawkins Goodman is here to show you exactly why being supportive doesn’t have to look like deranged positivity in the face of a situation everyone knows is horrible.
Goodman owns The Collaborative Counseling Center and runs an IG account called @sitwithwhit. Recently she shared a chart on the difference between giving a loved one validation and hope, and crossing the line into toxic positivity.
Instead of impersonal quips that come off as glib and unfeeling, she suggests we try validating others’ feelings before trying to offer ways to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Here are her suggestions:
I kind of love these, and think we could all use them on a regular basis.
And if the word “toxic” turns you off because of overuse, well, Goodman has something insightful to say about that, too:
“I’ve realized people HATE the word toxic. I hear ya’ll. Got a lot of comments on “never give up.” Decided to keep it. There are relationships, life goals, plans and situations that is OK to give up on. Not everything needs to result in completion. Sometimes it is safer to give up. We owe each other the space to discuss the options.”
Learning better ways to communicate can help us all, and these are great places to start.