This Chart Explains the Difference Between Support and ‘Toxic Positivity’


It’s a daily struggle for many people to try to find a silver lining in their lives. Life can really beat you down, and sometimes you just have to dig deep to find positivity and reassurance in yourself so you can move forward and carry on.

That being said, you can’t always do the same for other people. You can encourage and support someone until you’re blue in the face, and it still might not do them any good at the end of the day. Sometimes, all people really want is for their negative thoughts to be validated.

Bottom line: you can’t force a positive attitude or positive feelings on someone if they don’t have it within themselves.

That’s why this chart from Whitney Hawkins Goodman is so useful. In the chart, she explains the difference between support and toxic positivity.

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Here are some positive sayings I found on Pinterest. Alone, they’re pretty benign. But for someone who is really struggling they can sting. I translated them into some different variations that I think still inspire hope, but are validating. What do you think?

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As you can see, there are major differences between the two approaches. On one side, you’re offering actual helpful, validating advice that may allow someone struggling to move forward in some way.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

On the ‘toxic positivity’ side, you’re offering them a platitudinous one-liner that doesn’t really help and may even make the advisee feel unsafe in expressing their negative thoughts in the future. Toxic positivity can also make people who don’t have “good vibes only” feel like something is wrong with them, that they are choosing to be negative

We all have people in our lives who rely on us because they have a difficult time coping. Or perhaps you are that person. Either way, your friends and loved ones or maybe even YOU can use this chart as a starting point for thinking about things in a different light.

Sometimes you just need a little help to change your perspective.