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Old 01-29-2020, 11:25 AM
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Toxic positivity


I had never heard of the term "Toxic Positivity" until recently (there are all kinds of Google search hits for it now - here, here, here and here , for instance), but I think, like "passive-aggressiveness," the thing had always been there despite not having a name yet.



In a healthy trend that I hope keeps going, society seems to finally be having a long-overdue backlash to the following behaviors (note: not an all-inclusive list):
  • "Copes": Telling yourself, or others, that the world is fair - that unrepentant bullies will get their comeuppance eventually, for instance (when in fact the world is not fair and unrepentant bullies may go on to live great lives);
  • Positive gaslighting: Telling yourself, or others, that "it's going to be all right" when in fact things clearly are not, or will not, be all right; denying unpleasant reality - for instance, telling ugly people that they are in fact "beautiful" and face no looks-ism disadvantage when they complain about facing a looks-ism disadvantage;
  • An attitude that "a positive attitude/outlook overcomes all things," or demanding that people always look on the bright side / pull themselves up by their bootstraps;
  • Offering trite cliches/platitudes to people who are suffering;
  • Telling depressed people to "snap out of it";
  • Suppressing people's complaints or feeling of things gone wrong instead of allowing them to vent/express;



The common denominator in most of these "toxic positive" behaviors is an attempt to make the outward symptoms of unhappiness go away, while not addressing the inner actual underlying problems - or an attempt to portray reality as being something better than what it actually is.

With the rise of the Internet, in particular, it has become easier for communities like Reddit to establish groups in which toxic positivity is not promoted and people are freer to express and vent what is really ailing them, particularly with the benefit of anonymity, rather than being forced to put up a stiff upper lip and squelch their feelings.
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:02 PM
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Some of those things aren't so terrible. Coping is a good way to deal with the idea that the world isn't fair. I think I would be a lot healthier if I could convince myself that it way.

Telling an ugly person that they are beautiful is likewise beneficial. I mean, we know the person is ugly, but what can you do about it? Ignore it? Tell them how ugly they are?

The last few things are bad, especially with "demanding" certain things. I understand depression and I can see when people are suffering, but unless I am a family member or close friend, the best I can do is a slap on the back and a reassurance that "things will get better" or some such thing. I'm not their doctor or father. That's all I can do.

But your point is somewhat taken, however I think there are two different behaviors that you are describing. Especially with the venting thing. When someone is going off, you can usually tell if the person wants an answer or if the person is just frustrated and wants to get it all out. If they want to get it all out, just sit there and let them. Too many people misunderstand the difference and want to interrupt them and engage in a point by point with them. I don't think that results from "toxic positivity" though.
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:13 PM
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As someone with serious anxiety issues, suffering from debilitating and terrifying panic attacks for years now - I'm glad there's a name for what I've been additionally suffering from in the form of "help" from friends/family.
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:43 PM
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I had never heard of the term "Toxic Positivity" until recently (there are all kinds of Google search hits for it now - here, here, here and here , for instance), but I think, like "passive-aggressiveness," the thing had always been there despite not having a name yet.
From your subsequent description, I thought this was called "Christianity". That's not a slam, they really sound like Christian practices and coping mechanisms to me, turning other cheeks and such.
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:52 PM
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From your subsequent description, I thought this was called "Christianity". That's not a slam, they really sound like Christian practices and coping mechanisms to me, turning other cheeks and such.
The difference is that with Christianity, it's supposed to be genuine - i.e., you are genuinely supposed to love your enemies, etc. Whereas with toxic positivity it's about putting up a happy-looking surface veneer while allowing unsolved problems to fester and worsen underneath.
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Old 01-29-2020, 01:09 PM
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The difference is that with Christianity, it's supposed to be genuine - i.e., you are genuinely supposed to love your enemies, etc. Whereas with toxic positivity it's about putting up a happy-looking surface veneer while allowing unsolved problems to fester and worsen underneath.
Sometimes there are unsolved problems that you have no ability to solve and that are out of your control. Trying to focus on the positive things in life and not simply dwell on problems that you can't fix isn't toxic, and in fact can lead to feeling better.
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Old 01-29-2020, 01:20 PM
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I have an in-law who cannot, I am convinced, psychologically tolerate anything negative. If someone complains about something, she does all of those things to "fix" it, or make the person stop complaining. If she's asked about something she is experiencing, it is never bad or a problem, "it's fine." I get that it's an issue for her -- she clearly (and for reasons I won't go into) was trained from childhood to never say anything negative and never admit there's a problem. It's odd, too, because she's a very caring and compassionate person, and she does want to solve people's problems, but if she can't, or can't do it quickly enough and they are expressing the problems, you can see her desperation to make the negative talking stop.

For some people, it might come from a different place, but regardless, it gets old very quickly when you have genuine complaints or troubles that you would like to express.

I have a friend, on the other hand, who is really good at having a positive outlook, and giving people the benefit of the doubt, without it being toxic.

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Old 01-29-2020, 01:22 PM
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B.F. Skinner pointed this out in Walden Two, where his character Frazier describes the psychological basis of their utopian colony:
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"Some techniques were obvious enough, for they had marked turning points in human history. ‘Love your enemies’ is an example – a psychological invention for easing the lot of an oppressed people. The severest trial of oppression is the constant rage which one suffers at the thought of the oppressor. What Jesus discovered was how to avoid these inner devastations. His technique was to practice the opposite emotion. If a man can succeed in ‘loving his enemies’ and ‘taking no thought for the morrow,’ he will no longer be assailed by hatred of the oppressor or rage at the loss of his freedom or possessions. He may not get his freedom or possessions back, but he’s less miserable. It’s a difficult lesson. It comes late in our program.”
I don't think this is inherently toxic, but if it's synthesized ultimately into "have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, the wisdom to know the difference", it's important not to let it morph into "just shut up and accept it" or "stop making me uncomfortable by talking about it and just get over it."
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Old 01-29-2020, 01:25 PM
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I have an in-law who cannot, I am convinced, psychologically tolerate anything negative. If someone complains about something, she does all of those things to "fix" it, or make the person stop complaining. If she's asked about something she is experiencing, it is never bad or a problem, "it's fine." I get that it's an issue for her -- she clearly (and for reasons I won't go into) was trained from childhood to never say anything negative and never admit there's a problem. It's odd, too, because she's a very caring and compassionate person, and she does want to solve people's problems, but if she can't, or can't do it quickly enough and they are expressing the problems, you can see her desperation to make the negative talking stop.
I think this stems from an offshoot of a "shoot the messenger" mentality - namely, that the bearer of bad news is somehow as much the problem as the problem itself - and/or that getting the messenger to shut up, somehow makes the actual problem go away as well.
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Old 01-29-2020, 01:44 PM
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One of the ways it can be particularly toxic is in dealing with kids. My in-law becomes a freaking dancing-clown to get my kids (and hers when hers were little) to stop crying. My spouse and I, on the other hand, think it's OK, and healthy, for our kids to experience sadness. We empathize and comfort, but don't immediately try to "fix" the sadness.

So, for example, if a kid handles a toy roughly and it breaks and they are crying, in-law starts immediately chattering about fixing it, "it's OK, no worries, it'll be good as new" and will do the fastest possible repair. My spouse and I, on the other hand, don't go sprinting for the superglue and tape. We empathize, and sometimes draw the connection between actions and consequences. "You threw the toy against the wall, and it broke, and now you are sad." I might still repair the toy if it's possible, but not in order to get the kid to stop being sad. I think this teaches kids a number of good things. Sadness is OK, and this is what it feels like. Actions have consequences. We can learn from our past actions -- treating breakable things more gently is one way to avoid unnecessary sadness. Whereas I think the main lessons of the toxic positivity approach are, it's not OK to be sad, it's a grown-up's job to fix your sadness, and also to prevent you from experiencing negative consequences of your actions.

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Old 01-29-2020, 02:01 PM
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I had never heard of the term "Toxic Positivity" until recently (there are all kinds of Google search hits for it now - here, here, here and here , for instance), but I think, like "passive-aggressiveness," the thing had always been there despite not having a name yet.
I had never the heard of "Toxic Positivity" until I encountered this thread, but based on your description it already has plenty of names, or at least there are plenty of closely related phenomena. Political correctness. The self-esteem movement. Growth mindset.

"Everybody is beautiful". When I went to college 20 years ago, posters with those words were in every hallway and half the offices. But it's a lie by definition. Human physical beauty can only be defined relative to other people. A few people are significantly more beautiful than the rest. A few are uglier. Most look about average. People will be happier if they acknowledge the truth. Telling ugly people that they're beautiful is a lie and will do nothing to improve their lives. (Not to say it's beneficial to insult people's looks, but as children grow up it's best to gently lead them to the truth about their looks, whatever that truth is.)

Likewise with "All children are gifted", which was posted all over the walls in all the elementary and middle schools that I attended. It's a falsehood by definition.

Blogger and psychologist has a good post on voodoo psychology, looking at a long list of claims that giving people a small positive cue can solve some deep-seated psychological problem. In case after case, it turns out not to be true, of course.

Last edited by ITR champion; 01-29-2020 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 01-29-2020, 02:14 PM
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The place where this attitude bugs me the most is when people are sick. The way the positive energy mafia acts you'd think the sick person caused their disease and/or are actively sabotaging their own recovery. Like those goddamned cancer cheerleaders--look, it's absolutely valid for a person with a shit prognosis to refuse further debilitating treatment and focus on quality of life over quantity. No, not everyone has to "keep fighting this" just to make YOU more comfortable. Death is unavoidable and it's perfectly okay to be realistic about it and to choose the avenue to it that suits you best, stop trying to positive thoughts tumors away, it doesn't work and it puts an intolerable burden on a sick person who already is having to confront their own mortality. Support their burden and stop shoving your discomfort onto sick people, that's gross.
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Old 01-29-2020, 02:42 PM
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Old 01-29-2020, 02:54 PM
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I'm not sure what the point is. Sure, there are always insufferable or disingenuous people who constantly feel that they, if not everyone, should constantly portray a happy disposition, regardless of the circumstances.

OTOH, there are also plenty of people who act like the worst unforgivable sin is not looking at the world through a cynical, jaded lens.
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Old 01-29-2020, 03:01 PM
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"Everybody is beautiful". When I went to college 20 years ago, posters with those words were in every hallway and half the offices. But it's a lie by definition. Human physical beauty can only be defined relative to other people. A few people are significantly more beautiful than the rest. A few are uglier. Most look about average. People will be happier if they acknowledge the truth. Telling ugly people that they're beautiful is a lie and will do nothing to improve their lives. (Not to say it's beneficial to insult people's looks, but as children grow up it's best to gently lead them to the truth about their looks, whatever that truth is.)
There was an article a few years ago that pointed out that by insisting "Everyone is beautiful," such an attitude actually further stigmatizes ugliness. It further hammers home the point that ugliness is shameful and bad through its desperate insistence that nobody is ugly.
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Old 01-29-2020, 03:12 PM
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People confuse optimism and positivity. Optimists are able to see and talk about the shittiness around them, but they are also able to have hope. Their hope is always realistic and evidence-based. Positive people, in contrast, believe that simply talking about shittiness things is harmful or unproductive. They believe if one does not think happy thoughts, then they are to blame for their unhappiness. Their kind of hope is the fantastical kind. They refuse to listen to any criticism for fear it might shake their faith.

While it is true that there are some problems that can be addressed by a person having some agency over their life, I find the idea that happiness is a sign of personal virtue to be disgusting. It is a notion that has been peddled by the oppressor class since the beginning of time. It is important for members of the non-oppressor class to resist it.

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Old 01-29-2020, 04:15 PM
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There are lots of people who are desperately uncomfortable with just sitting with other people's misfortunes and pain. That's where a lot of this behavior arises (not all of it). I will never forget visiting the deathbed of a friend with AIDS, whose neighbor came in while I was there. "You'll get over this, you'll see!" she chirped with ghastly cheer.

I think that might be different than the cultural value of everyone is equally wonderful, and stay on the sunny side. Akin though.
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Old 01-29-2020, 04:16 PM
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I had never heard the phrase before this thread, but when I heard it, I immediately thought of the some of the examples in the OP The worst example is making cancer patients feel responsible for recurrence of the disease. Damn it, it recurred because they didn't remove or kill all the malignant cells.

I guess I am fortunate that I don't know anyone that engages in that sort of behavior.
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Old 01-29-2020, 04:31 PM
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I had never heard the phrase before this thread, but when I heard it, I immediately thought of the some of the examples in the OP The worst example is making cancer patients feel responsible for recurrence of the disease. Damn it, it recurred because they didn't remove or kill all the malignant cells.

I guess I am fortunate that I don't know anyone that engages in that sort of behavior.
I thought depression. Particularly that one cunt of an ex- who told me "You know, happiness is a choice !" a few chat lines after I'd revealed I'd tried to off myself in the darkest of winter.
Basically "toxic positivity" brings to mind a hundred Instagram feel-good empty-ass phrases that get passed along. Presumably by people who want to kill themselves *to* people who want to kill themselves. At least that's how I interpret the manic, empty, "wholesome" bs.
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Old 01-29-2020, 05:06 PM
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There are lots of people who are desperately uncomfortable with just sitting with other people's misfortunes and pain. That's where a lot of this behavior arises (not all of it). I will never forget visiting the deathbed of a friend with AIDS, whose neighbor came in while I was there. "You'll get over this, you'll see!" she chirped with ghastly cheer.

I think that might be different than the cultural value of everyone is equally wonderful, and stay on the sunny side. Akin though.
People are not taught how to be compassionate listeners. Most of us only get a lot of advice and platitudinous assurances from friends and family when we are in times of emotional need. So when we are called upon to show someone support, we naturally tend to default to advice and platitudous assurances.

It was only when I started going to therapy that I realized what good support looks like. Or rather what it isn't. It isn't telling someone, "Don't worry! Things will work out somehow!" It isn't "Just be happy you aren't living under a bridge." It also isn't "Have you tried X, Y, and Z yet?"

I know it can often feel unsatisfying to just validate what someone is feeling, but most times that is all person needs you to do. They don't want you to give them a platitude about looking on the bright side or how God works in mysterious ways or how important it is to have hope. They just want you to say "Man, that sucks. I am sorry you are going through this. Just know I will be here to help any way I can."

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Old 01-29-2020, 05:23 PM
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I think one of the healthiest and most comforting trends I'm seeing, online and IRL, is the ability for people to just say "I'm so sorry that is happening/happened to you, it must be/have been very painful" without immediately coopting the discomfort or trying to chirpily ameliorate it. The ability to simply hold space and acknowledge another person's pain is a good one to cultivate and it seems a larger swath is embracing it. I approve!
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Old 01-29-2020, 05:47 PM
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I think one of the healthiest and most comforting trends I'm seeing, online and IRL, is the ability for people to just say "I'm so sorry that is happening/happened to you, it must be/have been very painful" without immediately coopting the discomfort or trying to chirpily ameliorate it. The ability to simply hold space and acknowledge another person's pain is a good one to cultivate and it seems a larger swath is embracing it. I approve!
I think the tone-deafness of empty platitudes is more obvious in print. In print, a person going through problems can really lay out all the sordid details of their pain without holding back. It would take a very socially inept person to post "Look on the bright side!" to someone who shares all those sad, potentially embarrassing details. It is also easier to scold a person who would post something like that. If you are in meatspace and someone says a platitude in response to someone else's pathos, it is too much trouble to set them straight. But it is easy to say something like "That is unhelpful, bro! Stop talking like a freakin' Hallmark card!" on an anonymous message board.


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Old 01-29-2020, 05:54 PM
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I thought depression. Particularly that one cunt of an ex- who told me "You know, happiness is a choice !" a few chat lines after I'd revealed I'd tried to off myself in the darkest of winter.
Basically "toxic positivity" brings to mind a hundred Instagram feel-good empty-ass phrases that get passed along. Presumably by people who want to kill themselves *to* people who want to kill themselves. At least that's how I interpret the manic, empty, "wholesome" bs.
Gah, I hate that too! It just adds guilt on top of the suffering. For a long time I was stuck in the "feeling bad for feeling bad" spiral. I finally got a counselor who was like, "Uh, yeah, these are chemical reactions in your brain. You can get better with practice and medication, but it's going to take a while."
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Old 01-29-2020, 06:25 PM
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People confuse optimism and positivity. Optimists are able to see and talk about the shittiness around them, but they are also able to have hope. Their hope is always realistic and evidence-based. Positive people, in contrast, believe that simply talking about shittiness things is harmful or unproductive. They believe if one does not think happy thoughts, then they are to blame for their unhappiness. Their kind of hope is the fantastical kind. They refuse to listen to any criticism for fear it might shake their faith.
This is closely related to the phenomenon of "Nothing is impossible" in the workplace, whereby some bosses (perhaps having read too many inspirational can-do books or biographies) refuse to take "It can't be done" for an answer even when something is provably un-doable.
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Old 01-29-2020, 07:08 PM
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I've been seeing this a lot recently (the past week or so) in social media. It seems like other things of its ilk where "the dose makes the poison." So "positivity," great - but when it's taken too far, you end up with something that is no longer great and could be actively harmful.

Unfortunately, many people will deliberately misunderstand this idea.
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Old 01-30-2020, 01:01 AM
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[*]Positive gaslighting: Telling yourself, or others, that "it's going to be all right" when in fact things clearly are not, or will not, be all right; denying unpleasant reality - for instance, telling ugly people that they are in fact "beautiful" and face no looks-ism disadvantage when they complain about facing a looks-ism disadvantage.
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"Everybody is beautiful". When I went to college 20 years ago, posters with those words were in every hallway and half the offices. But it's a lie by definition. Human physical beauty can only be defined relative to other people. A few people are significantly more beautiful than the rest. A few are uglier. Most look about average. People will be happier if they acknowledge the truth. Telling ugly people that they're beautiful is a lie and will do nothing to improve their lives. (Not to say it's beneficial to insult people's looks, but as children grow up it's best to gently lead them to the truth about their looks, whatever that truth is.)
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There was an article a few years ago that pointed out that by insisting "Everyone is beautiful," such an attitude actually further stigmatizes ugliness. It further hammers home the point that ugliness is shameful and bad through its desperate insistence that nobody is ugly.
Just like there's different kinds of intelligence, there's different kinds of beauty. Some people who have beautiful faces have incredibly ugly attitudes, and vice versa. My grandma used to say that it's far more important to be beautiful on the inside than on the outside.
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Old 01-30-2020, 09:06 AM
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I had never heard the expression before, but as soon as I read it in the thread title I knew exactly what it meant. It fits nicely with my life's motto: I have never met a smart optimist.
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Old 01-30-2020, 09:39 AM
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It fits nicely with my life's motto: I have never met a smart optimist.
Every visionary is an optimistist. MLK, Ghandi, Susan B. Anthony, George Washington...if these folks hadn't had any hope for a better future, then we wouldn't know their names or their respective movements.

I have never met a smart peddler of positvity, however. A positivist doesn't use their brainpower to effect change. They rely solely on "thoughts and prayers". They don't come up with backup plans. They don't course-correct. Because all they can see is the fantasy in their mind. Not reality. So those people truly are dumb.

Someone who has hope that tomorrow may be less crappy than today isn't dumb. They are just trying to stay sane and focus on an end goal.



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Old 01-30-2020, 09:53 AM
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Every visionary is an optimistist. MLK, Ghandi, Susan B. Anthony, George Washington...if these folks hadn't had any hope for a better future, then we wouldn't know their names or their respective movements....
I absolutely disagree, the optimists were sitting home saying everything will be alright while the people listed above and got to work then the optimists said "see, it all worked out."
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Old 01-30-2020, 10:18 AM
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  • "Copes": Telling yourself, or others, that the world is fair - that unrepentant bullies will get their comeuppance eventually, for instance (when in fact the world is not fair and unrepentant bullies may go on to live great lives);
  • Positive gaslighting: Telling yourself, or others, that "it's going to be all right" when in fact things clearly are not, or will not, be all right; denying unpleasant reality - for instance, telling ugly people that they are in fact "beautiful" and face no looks-ism disadvantage when they complain about facing a looks-ism disadvantage;
  • An attitude that "a positive attitude/outlook overcomes all things," or demanding that people always look on the bright side / pull themselves up by their bootstraps;
  • Offering trite cliches/platitudes to people who are suffering;
  • Telling depressed people to "snap out of it";
  • Suppressing people's complaints or feeling of things gone wrong instead of allowing them to vent/express;
I don't feel the first two are a problem. More like they're inevitable when you're listening to someone or struggling yourself, and you simply don't know what to say. Kind of like when you're at a funeral and say, "at least he's in a better place," to someone who is religious. Does it help? Probably not - they're still going to grieve. Is it harmful? No. It's just someone not knowing what they're supposed to say, because there isn't anything you CAN say that'll make anything better.

The latter ones though I can see being more harmful, although I don't see telling someone to try and have a positive attitude is terribly harmful (not helpful, but I've been told this before and I just sigh and nod). Telling depressed people they just need to snap out of it IS harmful, and it's also a good idea to just let people vent if that's what they're looking to do.
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Old 01-30-2020, 10:22 AM
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I absolutely disagree, the optimists were sitting home saying everything will be alright while the people listed above and got to work then the optimists said "see, it all worked out."
So what term would you use to describe someone like MLK?

There are cynics, realists, optimists, and positivists. The first and last are the extremes to avoid. The realists and optimists are in the middle, working hand in hand. Realists need optimists for inspiration. And optimists need realists to vote for and carry out their ideas.

No one needs cynics or positivists.

I am curious what your conceptual framework looks like. If optimists are bad, who is looking for solutions to difficult problems? IMHO, realists don't do this very well because they adapt so well to shitty circumstances. They think, "Yeah, it sucks being a slave, but what can we do? We just need to cope with it and not complain so much." I hear lots of people talking like this. Rarely do you hear effective leaders talking like this.

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Old 01-30-2020, 03:17 PM
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There are lots of people who are desperately uncomfortable with just sitting with other people's misfortunes and pain. That's where a lot of this behavior arises (not all of it). I will never forget visiting the deathbed of a friend with AIDS, whose neighbor came in while I was there. "You'll get over this, you'll see!" she chirped with ghastly cheer.

I think that might be different than the cultural value of everyone is equally wonderful, and stay on the sunny side. Akin though.
This reminds me of the story of the husband by his wifes bedside while she was in her last days. He was SURE she would be healed and would pull thru so he was talking about future vacation plans, how they would redecorate the kitchen, asking her what wallpaper she wanted, etc...

Maybe in reality he should have just talked to her about all the good times they had together or reassuring her she was loved and they would be able to carry on. Basically helping her to end things peacefully.
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Old 01-30-2020, 10:32 PM
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Yeah, what some people are calling "toxic positivity" I think can often be more effectively described as "being in denial". You can't help being excessively positive if you're absolutely determined never to acknowledge the reality of anything bad. (See also: the Ursula K. LeGuin short story "The Road East".)
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Old 01-31-2020, 07:24 PM
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Sometimes the best response to gloom and doom types is a hefty dose of toxic positivity.
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Old 02-01-2020, 10:57 PM
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I absolutely disagree, the optimists were sitting home saying everything will be alright while the people listed above and got to work then the optimists said "see, it all worked out."
I think you're conflating different "optimisms". There's "Everything is fine right now", "Everything will be fine on our present course", and "Things can improve if we work to change them". The first one is denial (unless things actually are all bunnies and rainbows), the second one is passive optimism, and the third one is active optimism.
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Old 02-02-2020, 03:28 AM
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I think despondency and fiascoes pose greater threats than being positive.

I remember I was such an optimistic fellow as a boy. My parents' marriage wasn't a very happy one and they divorced when I was still in school. When one has to make ends meet, one has no choice but to mature fast and assume a realistic outlook.

But if I had stuck to grim realism and sheer pragmatism, probably I wouldn't have managed to handle some of the sharpest vicissitudes of fortune successfully. Because humans are emotional creatures, competence, diligence, and perseverance are not enough in pursuing important goals. Positive thinking is often indispensable.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:16 AM
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I had never heard the expression before, but as soon as I read it in the thread title I knew exactly what it meant. It fits nicely with my life's motto: I have never met a smart optimist.
Well, I once read a (dumbed down synopsis of) a study that showed that optimists were generally a lot happier than pessimists, but pessimists were far more often right.

I know several smart optimists -- interestingly all women -- who are so often disastrously disappointed that I have to wonder -- but it is a fixed pattern. I think they love the feeling of hopefulness more than they hate the crash. It isn't intelligence, it's some other thing.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:24 AM
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I see where the OP is coming from. But he is conflating different behaviours.

A degree of positivity is necessary to deal with problems, push your boundaries and succeed. However, it needs to be tempered with realism and cynicism.

Unrepentant bullies often fail slowly. Sometimes they have great lives. Sometimes they are successful for a time but end up divorced and never satisfied.

People vary in their physical appearance and are judged on that. But not only on that. Few people are going to be vacuous celebrities. The majority of people look average and get by just fine, since “what is on the inside” counts for a lot too. Anyone can be beautiful, though not if you define beauty as narrowly as the OP.

I agree there is benefit to venting and validating complaints. It is wrong to knowingly offer extreme false hope in severe illness or blame others inappropriately for understandable attitudes - but this doesn’t make it wrong to be somewhat hopeful or optimistic. Telling people to “snap out” of depression is an unhelpful platitude - but it may come from a good place and intentions matter too. Positive attitudes can certainly be overdone and can cause harm; but if mixed with realism and cynicism remains an important skill and coping mechanism.

I’m not sure I agree about new social attitudes to people who manage to be proud of their disabilities or characteristics seen as conventionally bad. You’d have to be more specific.
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Old 02-02-2020, 02:33 PM
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I know several smart optimists -- interestingly all women -- who are so often disastrously disappointed that I have to wonder -- but it is a fixed pattern. I think they love the feeling of hopefulness more than they hate the crash. It isn't intelligence, it's some other thing.
This behavior is common among sports fans. No matter how many losing seasons they've had, it's always "Next year is our year!" They're going to win the Super Bowl, or make a deep playoff run, no matter how many times they've been wrong. It's almost as if they want to be crushed by disappointment time and time again.
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:10 PM
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I absolutely disagree, the optimists were sitting home saying everything will be alright while the people listed above and got to work then the optimists said "see, it all worked out."
If Martin “I have a dream” Luther King wasn’t an optimist, what was he?

He wasn’t a realist, because a realist would be too focused on the threat of violence to ever let himself be the face of the CR movement. A realist would calculate the odds of success based on the dire evidence to date and conclude fighting oppression was a lost cause. Emigration would be a better bet for ones self-interest than protesting.

He wasn’t a cynic, because a cynic would never think white people could have the empathy needed to ever support CR. A cynic would also never believe the oppressed could find enough spine to see the war through to end.

He certainly wasn’t a pessimist, because a pessimist can’t even dream of positive change. Pessimists actually take comfort in hopelessness; there’s no need to feel shame in your own oppression if you’re convinced it’s as impossible to fight it as it is to destroy the sun.
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Old 02-03-2020, 10:06 PM
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As someone with serious anxiety issues, suffering from debilitating and terrifying panic attacks for years now - I'm glad there's a name for what I've been additionally suffering from in the form of "help" from friends/family.
I hear that, and while I try to look past it and instead only focus on the intentions of my so called “helpers” it can be trying at times.
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Old 02-03-2020, 10:16 PM
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This behavior is common among sports fans. No matter how many losing seasons they've had, it's always "Next year is our year!" They're going to win the Super Bowl, or make a deep playoff run, no matter how many times they've been wrong. It's almost as if they want to be crushed by disappointment time and time again.
I grew up as a Boston Red Sox/New England Patriots fan during the 1970s-90s so I’ll have to respectively disagree with your logic here.
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