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Ep117 – The Dark Side of Positivity with Louise Pieri

Can looking on the bright side of things be harmful? Is there such a thing as ‘toxic positivity’?

Too much positivity, or positivity in the face of someone’s upset, can do more harm than good.

I’m going to put my hand up here: I’m the first person to say things like “Everything will be okay” and “It will all turn out for the best”. We all do it: we want to support people and make them feel better, it’s only natural.

But sometimes, what we actually want and need is just for someone to GET where we’re at, acknowledge our feelings and not minimise them by saying “everything will be okay”. Sometimes, that can make things worse.

On top of this, there’s an increased occurrence in people being made to feel like there’s something wrong with them any time they feel down or upset about something. This is when positivity can become toxic.

The relentless bombardment from the #lovemylife and #blessed that we see on social media, along with the emphasis on always looking on the bright side of life, we can find ourselves gaslighted in the most unexpected way.

About Today’s Guest: Louise Pieri

Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, accredited figure skating instructor.

” The most important things about me are I am a rebellious seeker of truth and social justice”

After completing a bachelor of Criminology as a mature age student, I worked for the Department of Child Safety Youth and Women in the Youth Justice Department. There I facilitated with my colleagues a rehabilitative program designed to re-engage young offenders back into school, vocational training or employment.

Disillusioned and frustrated with the government system I decided the only way to make meaningful change in the lives of young people is to address their complex trauma through the therapeutic process.

With this goal in mind, I left DOCS and enrolled in psychology. After a disruption to my studies followed by the pandemic, I started an accessories business – Axessorize – to explore my creative side.

Although I am not currently using my criminology skills professionally I still view the world through a criminological lens and continue to critically think and analyise our social world through criminological theories.

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Louise’s Article

Toxic Positivity….Have you been a victim?

I recently had conversation with someone who is unrelentingly positive even in life threatening situations which got me thinking about the notion of Toxic Positivity; the suppression and denial of any negative thoughts or emotions.

Evolutionary psychology and criminology acknowledges the role of negative emotions such as fear in the survival of our species yet today ‘Toxic Positivity’ and the social media culture of ‘good vibes’ and ‘Feel Good’ statements could be doing more harm than good.

How so you might ask? The pressure in Social Media to appear positive and the suppression of all negative feelings in the face of adversity e.g a pandemic, or loss of a job can invalidate one’s own feelings and those of others leading to feelings of inadequacy, shame and isolation and could prevent someone from seeking help.

In other words positivity can have a negative effect. Someone said if you ghosting your own emotions, they’ll keep coming back to haunt you.